Giovanni Lo Celso, who was a crucial element of current Barcelona manager Quique Setien’s Real Betis team that qualified for Europe, now finds himself flourishing at the heart of Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham.
The Argentine was not the first choice under Mauricio Pochettino after making a high-profile summer loan move to London, with Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko staying ahead in the pegging order. But it appears that his stock has risen under Jose Mourinho, with the club making the move permanent in January and handed him a five-year-contract.
Mourinho has placed his faith in Lo Celso, starting him more often than not. And the former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder has done enough to justify his manager’s faith in him.
However, his biggest test in a Tottenham jersey will arrive on Thursday when he represents his side in a UEFA Champions League knockout clash against RB Leipzig. Christian Eriksen’s departure to Inter Milan has made Lo Celso even more integral to Spurs. It’s safe to say that he has huge boots to fill.
Lo Celso’s high work-rate renders him a good fit in a Mourinho side. He fits well in a double pivot in a 4-2-3-1 formation but his strengths lie in more advanced areas in the pitch.
Capable of dribbling and providing key passes, the Argentine fits the bill of a progressive player who is capable of carrying the ball forwards. He is technically adept and will hence will play an important role against a high-pressing Leipzig side.
Lo Celso has not been among the goals at Spurs, scoring only against Middlesbrough and FK Crvena Zvezda in the FA Cup and Champions League respectively. But this has more to do with the change in his role to a more defensive role under Mourinho.
Spurs will look to emulate and possibly better their brilliant run in the Champions League in which they reached the finals for the first time in their history. But they need to get past Julian Nagelsmann’s Leipzig in the last-16 clash.
Lo Celso’s technique and high work-rate will be key here. Besides, a masterclass on the biggest stage will strengthen his case as one of the most promising midfielders in the Premier League.