As club stalwarts Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane go head-to-head in the quarter-finals as France face England this weekend, Spurs manager Antonio Conte will be sweating on the fitness of his midfield machine, Uruguay star Rodrigo Bentancur.
The 25-year-old lasted only 34 minutes in La Celeste’s final group game against Ghana due to an adductor tear in his right leg. Bentancur was a key part of Diego Alonso’s side, starting all three matches and despite their 2-0 win, Uruguay failed to qualify for the last-16.
Reports in his home country have now claimed that Bentancur will be out for several weeks, with his return not expected until the new year. The Lilywhites host Aston Villa on January 1st before a trip to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace just a few days later.
Whilst the former Juventus man is suspended for their midday Boxing Day clash against Brentford, the fact that Bentancur is returning to north London nursing a problem will be a big cause for concern for the Italian head coach.
Bentancur has been one of the true shining lights of this current squad, surprisingly delivering further forward up the pitch, having registered five goals and tw0 assists from 20 outings in the Premier League and Champions League, via Transfermarkt.
A more defensively-sound powerhouse by nature, the £16m star – once dubbed a “Rolls-Royce” of a player by writer Tom Robinson – is also second to only Harry Kane in terms of average WhoScored rating, meaning he has been very consistent in the English top-flight, where he also averages a squad-high 2.6 tackles and 1.3 interceptions.
With so many games to come after the World Cup break, not having the influential box-to-box dynamo potentially unavailable is certainly a gutting blow to both Conte and Spurs.
The 53-year-old may be stacked with options in the engine room but none are as in-form and as consistent as the Uruguayan sensation, His likely absence will be a huge worry heading into 2023.