With Christian Eriksen heading out the Tottenham exit door, Giovani Lo Celso has stepped up at the perfect time
- Giovani Lo Celso has stepped up at the ideal time to fill Christian Erkisen’s shoes
- The midfielder shone in Spurs’ 1-1 draw with Southampton in the FA Cup
- With Christian Eriksen set to join Inter Milan, it will be a relief to Jose Mourinho
- He’s still prone to overreactions after tackles, but his versatility is striking
Between the dramas, Giovani Lo Celso is proving quite adept at putting on a show. It remains the case that clattered shins are exaggerated by the Argentine into a fight for his life, but increasingly he is forgiven by his sheer ability to make muppets of good defenders.
What a relief that must be for Jose Mourinho as he enters the final hours of the Christian Eriksen saga. How comforting that as one rainmaker completes his move to Inter Milan — possibly even today — another is finding his touch.
It is too early for detailed comparisons, of course. Indeed, it might never be the right time when you consider how good Eriksen was and is.
With Inter set to confirm Christian Eriksen’s signing, Giovani Lo Celso is ready to fill the void
The midfielder’s run to setup Son Heung-min’s goal against Southampton showed his impact
Lo Celso’s rise will be a relief to Jose Mourinho, with the Argentinian showing great versatility
But just as we might assume Lo Celso will acclimatise out of those over-reactions to contact, it also seems safe to wager he will continue to have days when he plays like a carving knife made flesh. For Tottenham, that is both enough and timely.
On Saturday he was excellent for the second time in a week. His slalom between five challenges ahead of Son Heung-min’s goal mimicked the acceleration of his recent career.
That he will be given a permanent contract by Jose Mourinho this week says everything about his impact in four starts across the past 13 days, having initially made a softer impression on Mauricio Pochettino upon joining Tottenham on loan from Real Betis.
Lo Celso is still prone to some over the top simulation, but he is acclimatising to England
Perhaps most striking of his attributes is his versatility. On Wednesday against Norwich he excelled as a deep-lying midfielder, serving as an interceptor and conduit for quick attacks.
At Southampton he was used on the right of the attacking three in a 4-3-3 and in near back-to-back passages in the second half he floated one perfect ball to Son and then broke up an attack with a precise sliding challenge on Sofiane Boufal.
It might be that his all-pitch qualities actually make him more like Mousa Dembele than Eriksen.
To Mourinho, whose tinkering has seen 11 midfield combinations in his 17 games, such flexibility in an on-form player is gold dust.
Harry Winks is among those who have been taken in by the 23-year-old’s form. ‘It took him a while to get used to the intensity and the aggression of the league but he’s flying now,’ said Winks.
With Christian Eriksen on the bring of moving to Italy, Lo Celso’s impact will be vital
‘Coming from Spain it is a little bit more protected out there, the referees are a little bit more lenient here. I can’t imagine him playing in Spain on pitches like we have in the winter here and against aggressive players.
‘But he’s got the quality to deal with that. And he’s shown that again.
‘I don’t think it’s right to compare him to Eriksen — both are equal in their rights as top players. They’re not direct replacements. Just two very good players.’
For Tottenham, with all the frustration of a replay after Boufal’s late equaliser, it is surely a relief that comparisons can be made to Eriksen at all.
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