Spurs boss Antonio Conte has confirmed ahead of kick-off that centre-back Cristian Romero’s season is now over after he sustained a “serious injury” against Liverpool.
And now, all has been revealed.
“We understood in the last few days that Romero had a serious injury and has finished this season because there are only two games to go and he has no time to recover for these two games,” he told reporters (via the Evening Standard).
Tottenham cannot afford to slip up over the remaining two matches of the season, so to not have the standout defender available for either will certainly come as a massive and gutting blow to Conte.
His replacement, Davinson Sanchez, did perform well against the Gunners but much of his time in N17 has been blighted by inconsistencies, even leading to some pundits describing him as a “liability” to the team.
The fact that he has not tied down a regular place amongst the starting XI since he arrived in 2017 is telling enough.
Romero, however, has quickly emerged as a fan-favourite and a key cog within this three-at-the-back system that the Italian head coach deploys. Indeed, fellow Atalanta arrival Pierluigi Gollini hinted towards his suitability earlier in the campaign.
“This guy is an animal, I swear. He’s perfect for the Premier League,” the backup goalkeeper told the Evening Standard.
“He’s played for many years with three at the back and especially when you play with a very aggressive style and play man for man, it’s a completely different thing to in a four. You have to work and defend more like a group of four and defend more the zone and less the man. So he needs to adjust.”
No centre-back is winning more headers (two per game), tackles (2.8 per game) or interceptions (1.5 per game), whilst an 86.7% passing accuracy when also attempting 2.6 long balls per game shows that he’s equally adept with the ball at his feet.
Thus meaning he can seriously help Spurs play out from the back with calm, cool and collected composure, on top of his evident animal-like defensive capabilities.
He will be an awfully big miss for the Lilywhites heading into these final two fixtures against the Clarets and Norwich City.