With James Maddison’s injury setback, this £28 million “flop” may get one final chance to prove himself.
For the last several seasons, Tottenham Hotspur has assembled an amazing talent roster. For comparatively low costs, the London club was able to sign players such as Dejan Kulusevski, Micky van de Ven, Guglielmo Vicario, James Maddison, Brennan Johnson, and Yves Bissouma.
Spurs, having bounced back from the devastating loss of record scorer Harry Kane, are now locked in an early title race with Manchester City, Liverpool, and north London rivals Arsenal. Spurs finished eighth in the Premier League the previous season before adding Ange Postecoglou in the summer.
Though one of these players may be headed back to the starting lineup, there are still some names on the roster that serve as a warning to the Lilywhites about what may happen when recruitment goes awry.
James Maddison injury update
After going down to nine men in the second half with the score tied at one, Spurs fell 4-1 against Chelsea on Monday night at home. Postecoglou will be more concerned with Maddison and van de Ven’s departures before to the break. The latter is expected to miss many months due to a serious hamstring issue, and Maddison is still being evaluated ahead of Tottenham’s match against Wolves this coming weekend. It is highly doubtful that the England international will play at Molineux.
The 26-year-old, who cost £40 million to join in the summer, has had a significant impression at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, contributing to eight goals in 11 appearances under Postecoglou. Son Heung-Min, Madison’s attacking partner, has said that playing with the former Leicester City maestro has been “a joy” since he arrived from King Power Stadium.
The man to replace James Maddison
The loss of Maddison will undoubtedly affect the other players on the squad, but Postecoglou could have to look to Giovani Lo Celso in the meantime.
With a total of 24 minutes played, the Argentine has only made two Premier League appearances for Spurs this season. The one game that Lo Celso started this season was an EFL Cup loss to Fulham, when he was taken off at halftime.
|Lo Celso’s Spurs career in numbers|
|Stats via Transfermarkt.|
Lo Celso joined Spurs on loan under Mauricio Pochettino in 2019, but during Jose Mourinho’s time in the dugout in January, the agreement was made permanent for £27.5 million. However, the midfielder’s stint in England hasn’t gone well, and Jack Pitt-Brooke of The Athletic, a journalist covering Tottenham, even called the player a “flop” after he spent the past eighteen months at Villarreal on loan while earning £70,000 a week.
With Maddison’s injury, rumors suggest the English team has placed a £15 million price tag on Lo Celso’s back. However, the Argentina international may be given one more chance to show Spurs that he still has a future there.
Lo Celso’s stats last season
The only alternative left to Ange would be to use Rodrigo Bentancur in a more advanced role, but the Uruguayan lacks the same level of creative acumen as his South American rival. Considering that the two had played 54 minutes together in the Premier League this season, comparing their numbers from the previous season will help determine who should start in Maddison’s place.
Starting off the previous season, Bentancur averaged 0.3 goals per ninety while playing for Spurs, while Lo Celso averaged 0.16 goals per ninety at Villarreal. However, according to FBref, the latter had a greater xG per ninety with 0.2 than Bentancur’s 0.13 xG per ninety.
But the two aren’t even close when it comes to assists and opportunity generation. While the former Juventus player achieved just 0.12 assists per 90 from an xA of 0.04 per 90, Lo Celso averaged 0.24 assists per 90 from 0.24 projected assists per 90 previous season.
Despite playing at a higher position most of the time, Lo Celso was also more adept at moving his team across the field, with 7.76 progressive passes per 90 possessions compared to Bentancur’s 4.55. In addition, Bentancur’s 0.54 passes into the box and 0.66 crucial passes per 90 was surpassed by the Spurs’ “flop” with 2.32 passes to the penalty area and 2.48 vital passes. Furthermore, compared to Bentancur’s 1.56 progressive carries per 90, Lo Celso registered 2.8 with Villarreal.
Although Lo Celso is not as good defensively as Bentancur, Postecoglou is searching for a straight successor for Maddison, and Lo Celso is perhaps the most qualified candidate to step into his challenging shoes.