Tottenham Hotspur

Argentina call-ups are costing Giovani Lo Celso chance to establish himself at Spurs

Jude Summerfield
Lo Celso's form has stalled at Tottenham
Lo Celso's form has stalled at Tottenham / Clive Rose/GettyImages

In a Tottenham supporting family, your dad likely doesn't rate Giovani Lo Celso. And in all fairness, he's probably got a point.

The Argentine impressed in his debut season at Spurs, particularly during Project Restart when he looked like the only player in their midfield capable of taking the ball and driving his side forward.

But while he's always been an industrious and ratty presence on the pitch, he falls into a category of Tottenham midfielders who can't be defined all that easily.

Tanguy Ndombele, Harry Winks, Lo Celso and Dele Alli have all had their opportunities since Mauricio Pochettino's exit in 2019 - the latter less so - but none have made themselves utterly undroppable under either former boss Jose Mourinho or new manager Nuno Espirito Santo.

Dele has been reinvented as a hardworking central player in the early parts of this season, but the cheekiness and late bursts into the box seem to have vanished from his game. Ndombele, for all his brilliance on the ball coupled with his ability to beat the press, hasn't shown the consistent eye for a killer pass or goal threat.

And at a time where the third midfield spot alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Oliver Skipp is up for grabs, the news of Argentina's reluctance to release Lo Celso and centre back Cristian Romero early from the international break is extremely frustrating, especially given it happened last month and will likely occur again in November.

Lo Celso and Romero, alongside fellow South Americans Davinson Sanchez and Emerson Royal, likely won't be able to face Newcastle, though they are all double-vaccinated. While all the options for the third midfield spot are inconsistent, Lo Celso's international commitments deprive him of the opportunity to showcase his skills.

So far this season, Lo Celso has started just one Premier League game - the 3-0 defeat to Chelsea back in September. His major outings have come in the Europa Conference League, a competition he's scored twice in so far.

But it's already eerily reminiscent of last season, where the former Real Betis star filled his boots in the Europa League while his domestic outings were more inconsistent.

It was in La Liga that Lo Celso showed he can produce regular attacking returns, scoring nine times and adding four assists during the 2018/19 season, but with issues with form and injuries scuppering his time with Spurs so far, he's managed just one league goal for Tottenham in just over two years - that being the second in the 2-0 win over Manchester City.

He doesn't have the highest ceiling in the world, but for a player of his evident talent - see his finish against NS Mura last week - he needs to be showing more end product. While there's little he can do about government quarantine regulations, each call-up for Argentina is disrupting his chances of pinning down a regular spot with Tottenham.

Maybe winning a Copa America with Lionel Messi shows one option is more attractive than the other, but from a fan perspective it's another obstacle in an already stop-start stint at the club.

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