Ange Postecoglou has rejuvenated the careers of several Tottenham Hotspur players, but for a long time Giovani Lo Celso wasn’t one of them. While Spurs started the season by surging to the top of the Premier League table, the Argentinean midfielder was left on the outside looking in as a peripheral figure.
Lo Celso had to wait until the home fixture against Aston Villa on 26th November to start his first Premier League match of the season and while Spurs ultimately lost 2-1, he scored the only goal of the game. The midfielder’s goal against Manchester City counted for more as Tottenham snatched a 3-3 draw at the home of the champions.
Injuries have forced Postecoglou to delve deeper into his squad than he would have liked. James Maddison, Micky van de Ven, Yves Bissouma, Pape Sarr and Richarlison have all been sidelined for a number of matches and that has given a number of second string players an opportunity to make an impact.
Lo Celso has made the most of the second chance he’s been given, effectively deputising for Maddison as the central creator in Tottenham’s system. Maddison and Lo Celso operate in a different way, with the latter a more direct threat than the former, but the emergence of the Argentine as a difference-maker has helped Spurs stay competitive of late.
Only a few weeks ago, Lo Celso’s career at Tottenham Hotspur looked to be as good as over. Speculation was swirling over his future with Barcelona one of the clubs believed to be monitoring the midfielder’s position at Spurs ahead of a possible offer in January. Now, though, Postecoglou might not want to see him leave.
“No, because this is the opportunity where I’m getting to make those assessments,” Postecoglou replied when asked whether Tottenham would consider selling Lo Celso. “[What he did previously] isn’t really relevant to me. It’s more about what I see from now on, and how the players feel in terms of fitting in to the football I want. I’m going to get a good look at everyone. There’s constant feedback about how we play and where I see the guys fitting in with that. Gio is no different.”
It’s clear Postecoglou needs greater squad depth to achieve his goals as Spurs manager. The North London club is expected to move for a number of transfer targets in January with a central defender and centre forward top of their list. This is where Tottenham need more options to maintain their form over the full season.
In attacking midfield, though, Tottenham Hotspur are better equipped than appeared to be the case only a few weeks ago. Lo Celso has given Spurs a different dimension in the final third, as demonstrated by the well-taken goal he scored from the edge of the box against Manchester City on Sunday.
Talent has never been an issue for Lo Celso. He has showcased his ability at various points in his career, just not at Tottenham until recently. Injuries, however, have been a factor, plus Lo Celso has been unlucky with the managerial track record of the North London club over the last few seasons.
Signed by Mauricio Pochettino, Lo Celso was injured for the start of the 2019/20 season until the manager who wanted him at Tottenham was replaced by someone who couldn’t see a place for him in the team – Jose Mourinho. Antonio Conte wasn’t much of a fan of Lo Celso either, letting him join Villarreal on loan.
Under Postecoglou, though, Lo Celso is proving himself while the Australian coach is ironing out some of the flaws in the Argentine’s game. While Lo Celso didn’t immediately appear to be a Postecoglou player, that perception is now changing.