Opinion: Bryan Gil could be Tottenham’s biggest risk worth taking

In July of 2021 Tottenham decided to call time on Erik Lamela’s stay at the club, leaving the chance for new winger to replace him and Fabio Paratici did just that, choosing to take a gamble as he signed young, highly tipped, Spanish winger Bryan Gil.

Tottenham reportedly paid £21.6m as well as Erik Lamela for the then 20-year-old (Sky Sports). Gil agreed to a five-year deal (Official) when joining and arrived alongside Romero, Gollini, Sarr and Emerson: all players that newly appointed sporting director Fabio Paratici signed for the also recently arrived manager, Nuno Espirito Santo.

Bryan Gil
Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Bryan Gil hardly had a soft landing into life at Spurs as Nuno was dismissed by the club just five months after he was appointed, allowing for the introduction of Antonio Conte in November of 2021.

Gil would have been wishing for a chance under the Italian, but the former Chelsea manager seemed to refuse the winger the opportunity as Gil only experienced 86 minutes of Premier League football (TransferMarkt) until exiting the club on loan in January 2022 to head back to Spain and join La Liga side Valencia CF.

Spurs fans were in agreement at the time that Gil needed to leave to experience first-team minutes elsewhere, but there was a shared frustration that the loan was one that saw Gil return to Spain as a large concern for Gil was in regard to his thin and small frame.

It’s far from unlikely for players of Gil’s build to be successful in the Premier League, for example look at David Silva, Kante and Luka Modric; but it requires the player to put in the strength training, step up and adapt to the demands of the league, something that Gil hasn’t yet been able to do.

Despite concerns, Gil did complete his six-month loan to Valencia, making 13 appearances in La Liga and even contributed with an assist during his time in his homeland (TransferMarkt).

However, since Gil had been away Tottenham signed Dejan Kulusevski who had hit the ground running and almost instantly promoted himself to become Antonio Conte’s first-choice right forward.

With Lucas Moura still at the club and Richarlison arriving from Everton it appeared that something would have to give at Spurs. The final days of the transfer window drew closer, and it appeared as if Conte would be electing Gil to be the player who leaves Tottenham to go back out on loan.

That was until Tottenham became hesitant on their squad size and chose to not send Gil back to Valencia. Antonio Conte explained ‘we wanted to send him on loan to Valencia, but the situation changed’ (Fabrizio Romano).

There is perhaps the question of: why did Kulusevski have faith poured into him so quickly and Gil didn’t? It looks obvious now but when the Swede signed it could be suggested that Tottenham had loaned out one young winger for another, but it’s the difference between the two is their maturity.

Bryan Gil has only made 98 professional appearances (FotMob), of which a large share have been short cameos; whereas, Kulusevski had made 143 appearances before joining Tottenham (FotMob), many of which were at Parma Calcio where he had the added responsibility of being the sides main star.

Most fans would have anticipated that this season would be much like Gil’s last at Tottenham, in and around the first team but never getting his chance to shine.

Although, due to the unforeseen circumstances of both Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison being out with a thigh injury and a calf strain, respectively (Football.London). Due to Tottenham’s injury difficulties, it’s meant that Antonio Conte has turned to Gil more often as his attacking option from the bench.

The turning point for Gil seemed to be against Eintracht Frankfurt at home in the Champions League as the 21-year-old twisted and turned his way through the Europa League champions.

Gil may have even crowned his second appearance of the 2022/23 season with a goal if Kane hadn’t elevated his cross over the Spaniard’s head.

Kane uncharacteristically denied Gil another goal contribution in the same game as Gil jinked his way inside of Frankfurt defender, Hvoje Smolic, who was too slow to react to Gil’s turn, leaving the referee no option but to award a Tottenham penalty.

It seemed as if Gil had gifted Kane a golden opportunity to seal the game, but the England captain fired the spot kick over the bar.

Nevertheless, Bryan Gil’s cameo that game showed that he has the capabilities to threaten top defences and be a thorn in Tottenham’s attack when called upon, despite his appearance being only around ten minutes long it earned Gil a further twenty minutes against Sporting CP.

The fact that Conte turned to Gil when Spurs were needing a goal showed how much of an impression, he had made on Antonio Conte Gil changed the game and created as many key passes as Moura had across 81 minutes (2) (SofaScore).

This impressive nature of this performance wasn’t lost on Conte who explained ‘he understands football in an important way. I’m sure that we’re talking about a player that will be an important prospect for the future’ (Football365).

This was a sign of how Gil had risen in Conte’s estimation that he’d been deployed by his manager in the Champions League with so much at stake, Conte said ‘I believe in him, otherwise, I don’t risk playing him in the Champions League’ (Football.London).

Such public praise from Conte is rare and will be good reading for Spurs fans as they clearly have a very technically gifted player on their books who has the manager’s faith. Gil’s promise has also been a redeeming factor of Conte’s side of late.

Tottenham’s performances of late have been lacklustre and dull, especially in the first half so Gil’s bright sparks from the bench have been a welcome surprise for fans, the only frustration may be that he isn’t getting a chance from the start of the game.

However, that could soon change as Son received a blow to the head early on against Marseille, despite the South Korean not being on his best form this season Spurs will miss the winger due to the dwindling options of alternatives to him.

It appears this is Gil’s clearest chance to step into the starting eleven as Conte could only have Kane, Gil and Moura as his available attackers against Liverpool on Sunday.

Conte could still opt to go with a 3-5-2, but with it seems to be that Conte prefers having three frontmen, especially when you consider that it would mean Lucas Moura is Harry Kane’s strike partner despite the Brazilian being a natural winger.

It would be naive to assume that Conte doesn’t note the flaws that Gil does still naturally hold in his game despite the flattering comparisons to Bernardo Silva earlier this week Conte admitted that ‘Silva is physically stronger than him, but we are talking about this type of player’ (Football.London).

The quotes suggest that there are no questions around Gil’s abilities on and off the ball as Conte said ‘he can be helpful in this [defensive] situations’ (Football.London) but there’s an overwhelming feeling that Gil must improve and adapt to the physicality of the Premier League otherwise he could end up seeing his abilities be made redundant.

There is one thing for certain, if Gil is given the nod for Tottenham’s clash against Liverpool it will be a golden opportunity for the 21-year-old to announce himself as a huge prospect in England and finally allow him to transition from a promising, raw prospect to a flourishing, exciting talent at one of the biggest clubs in England.

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