With Christian Eriksen not at Inter, Giovani Lo Celso’s emergence, and permanent signing, couldn’t have come at a better time for Spurs fans.
His performance against Southampton at the weekend showed once again that he could be the perfect replacement for the Dane, with the Argentine helping to secure a 1-1 draw against a high-flying Saints side in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Spurs flattered to deceive at St. Mary’s, but Mourinho will be delighted to know that he is already in possession of a worthy Eriksen replacement – putting his transfer headaches to rest (in that department, at least).
Since his arrival in north London from Real Betis back in August, the midfielder initially struggled to find his feet in the Premier League. There were high expectations surrounding Lo Celso’s arrival, with supporters eager to see what the young playmaker could bring to England’s top tier – but the 23-year-old ended up spending the majority of his time sidelined with injury.
However, over the past few weeks, Lo Celso has proved exactly what he’s capable of.
He was crucial in the lead up to Tottenham’s only goal on Saturday, charging past the likes of James Ward-Prowse and Moussa Djenepo before providing a superb pass to Erik Lamela in the lead up to the goal.
Lo Celso then nearly got on the scoresheet himself, slamming the ball in the middle of the net in the first half hour of the game, only for the officials to disallow the goal. It was his work in the latter stages of the match which really caught the eyes of supporters though, with the young star running the centre of midfield, switching from the right wing after new signing Gedson Fernandes was taken off in the early moments of the second half.
One aspect that will make Lo Celso the perfect replacement for Eriksen is his ability to dribble past his opponents. Once Fernandes came off, the Argentine was free to glide past Southampton players effortlessly.
Lo Celso pairs that dribbling ability with an impressive passing range and technical ability. It’s a set of attributes that will be valuable to Mourinho as he looks to encourage his side to make quick transitions and to get the ball up the field, making him a crucial component of this current Tottenham side.
Although he has shown his worth in central midfield, he can also perform as a winger or in a deeper role on the pitch, making him an extremely versatile player. In Tottenham’s game against Norwich, Lo Celso excelled as a more deep-lying midfielder, playing as an interceptor for quick attacks.
With Mourinho constantly testing his best possible midfield, a flexible player who can perform well in various roles is just the type of man the Portuguese boss needs.