With Antonio Conte opting to send versatile Tottenham midfielder Giovani Lo Celso on loan to Villarreal in January, and the La Liga side having an option to buy the 25-year-old this summer, it would very much appear as if the Argentina international’s time in north London could be coming to an end.
It is true that the £19.8m-rated midfielder never quite lived up to expectations following his £55m move to Spurs in 2019 – earning seasonal SofaScore match ratings of 6.77, 6.78 and 6.72 in 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 respectively. However, considering just how impressive he has been so far in Spain, perhaps the club’s decision to include an option for Villarreal to buy the Argentine could be one that Conte comes to regret.
Indeed, over his four La Liga outings in the current campaign, the £100k-per-week dynamo has been in remarkable form Unai Emery’s side. He has created one big chance for his team-mates, in addition to averaging 0.5 interceptions, 1.3 tackles and 29.3 passes and winning five duels (at a success rate of 71%) per game.
These returns have seen the 25-year-old average a highly impressive average SofaScore match rating of 7.22, not only ranking him as Villarreal’s third-best performer in the top flight of Spanish football but also the 11th-best player in the entire division.
Furthermore, according to FBRef, over the past year, the player who Jose Mourinho dubbed “phenomenal” also ranks in the 96th percentile of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for passes attempted, the 95th percentile for progressive passes, the 93rd percentile for pressures, the 97th percentile for tackles and the 90th percentile for interceptions.
As such, should Lo Celso demonstrate this level of form consistently for Spurs, he could undoubtedly become a hugely important player for Conte.
However, as a result of the option-to-buy clause that Villarreal hold for the midfielder, the Italian looks rather unlikely to have the chance to reassess the status of the Argentine within his squad – something which could cost Spurs big time come the summer.