In 2019, Tottenham broke the bank to the tune of £55 million to bring Giovani Lo Celso over from Real Betis.
Three years on and the Argentinian is set to exit Spurs disappointingly, having never lived up to expectations.
If dialling the clock back three years was possible, I’d do it just to relive the anticipation of Lo Celso’s arrival on Hotspur Way. Now the Argentinian, who was on loan at Villarreal for the second half of the season, is ready for a new chapter elsewhere.
Few Tottenham supporters will be saddened by the news of Lo Celso’s impending departure from the club. Spurs want about €20 million for the exiled Argentine, meaning the club will almost assuredly take an almost £30 million hit on what was once considered an invaluable asset.
Unai Emery has a good relationship with Lo Celso and is keen on signing him at Villarreal permanently.
During the early stages of Jose Mourinho’s first season at Spurs, Lo Celso showed some promise, even, albeit rarely, offering glimpses of what was expected from a €60 million signing. But Lo Celso couldn’t string excellent performances together and had a torrid time showcasing the lauded offensive skill set that originally convinced Mauricio Pochettino to sign him.
He ended up netting eight times, adding just six assists, in 84 appearances. While nobody expected a consistent offensive explosion from the diminutive midfielder, there is resounding disappointment amongst Spurs supporters, all of whom demanded more.
The 26-year-old morphed into more of an anchor in central midfield, responsible for tracking back and interrupting the opposition’s flow. His playmaking side never materialized, leaving Tottenham supporters frustrated, even bewildered.
Lo Celso was also on the treatment table an inordinate amount. Just as he enjoyed a string of first-team performances he would go down with yet another injury issue, preventing him from ever really settling in N17.
Now it looks like his time at Tottenham has come to a quiet, absent end. The one thing I can say for Lo Celso is that he always left everything on the pitch and worked as hard as anyone.
Unfortunately a strong work ethic and desire to fight for everything doesn’t constitute value for a £55 million asset.
For a player touted so highly, the way his tenure is ending at Spurs is equal parts sad, frustrating and underwhelming.
Though I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rebound and redeem himself with Villarreal or whichever team lands him permanently.
The Premier League, even Tottenham, seems to have that impact on a disproportionate amount of highly touted incoming foreign players, continually proving how difficult it is to adapt to the top flight and live up to lofty expectations and swollen price tags.