Lucas Moura has given Antonio Conte plenty to think about as Spurs advanced into the fifth round of the FA Cup on Saturday evening.
The north London outfit welcomed top-flight rivals Brighton and Hove Albion to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on their return from the winter break and they ran out 3-1 victors.
Goals from Harry Kane, either side of a Solly March own goal and Yves Bissouma consolation strike, sealed the win.
With the Lilywhites in cruise control for much of the game, the Italian head coach was able to hand debuts to both Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski following their deadline day moves from Juventus last week.
And the latter particularly impressed in a 22-minute cameo from the bench.
His brilliant movement on and off the ball should’ve seen him earn a near-perfect maiden outing. The Swede laid on the perfect ball for Steven Bergwijn, only for the winger to sky it into the stands.
The Evening Standard’s Dan Kilpatrick dubbed his short outing as “eye-catching” after the game. The same cannot be said for the vastly-experienced Brazilian, who for large parts of the match went missing.
‘Barely registered in an unusually subdued display,’ is how the reporter described Moura’s performance as he ranked him amongst Spurs’ worst players on the night.
Elsewhere, he failed to register a single shot on target, pulled off just one successful dribble from three attempts and made only 19 passes at an accuracy rate of 70%, as per SofaScore.
The £18m-rated lightweight, who also lost 60% of his battles, has now given Conte a massive dilemma. This sort of disappointing display has come at the worst moment as his potential successor – Kulusevski – looked the part instantly.
Once claimed to be a “nightmare” to train against by teammate Eric Dier, it would not be a surprise to see Moura’s place in the starting XI at risk heading into the next couple of matches – and importantly, their return to the Premier League, where a place in the top four is still up for grabs.
The former PSG star can ill-afford more matches like that now that he has serious competition for places – whether Conte drops him or not remains to be seen but the Italian has plenty to mull over before they host Southampton on Wednesday night.
It could also be too soon to trust Kulusevski but that cameo was too good to ignore, thus the 52-year-old has been left with a major dilemma this weekend.