Tottenham Hotspur’s decision not to sign Zeki Celik has now been completely vindicated with the full-back happy at LOSC Lille while Matt Doherty thrives under Jose Mourinho.
While speaking with So Foot Magazine, Celik has confirmed Tottenham showed an interest in his services this summer, but admitted he is happy to have stayed with his Ligue 1 side as they challenge for Champions League qualification.
Lille sit second to Paris Saint-Germain in the French top-flight standings after the opening 10 rounds of fixtures, claiming five wins and four draws to edge Stade Rennais and Olympique de Marseille by a point.
Celik has started eight of Les Dogues’ games and been introduced from the bench once, with manager Christophe Galtier only without the 23-year-old for November’s 3-2 loss away to Stade Brest 29 through international duty.
Jose Mourinho was thought to have identified the 18-cap Turkey international as his top-target to improve Tottenham’s right-back options in the summer market, with reports by The Telegraph suggesting Serge Aurier and Juan Foyth could both be sold in order to raise funds.
Celik was never informed of an official approach from Spurs, who ultimately signed Doherty from Wolves for £14.7m, and has no regret over not joining Mourinho’s side.
“I heard that there was interest from Tottenham, but I don’t know if they made an offer,” he said. “In any case, I know that the Premier League is a league that I am attracted to, but I am happy to have stayed here when you look at the start to the season that we have had.”
While Celik has no regrets over failing to secure a move to the Premier League this summer, Tottenham should have no qualms either having seen Doherty thrive since leaving Molineux.
The 28-year-old Republic of Ireland international is currently averaging a greater number of duels won (7.8) per top-flight game than Celik (5.7) is achieving in France and with a higher success rate (57% to 53%). He also boasts more touches (73.7 to 63.7), accurate passes (36.0 to 30.3) and accurate crosses (0.5, 25% to 0.2, 13%), per SofaScore.
Mourinho will no doubt have enjoyed working with Celik, though, as the Turkey right-back’s former manager Yalcin Koskavak once claimed he has always prioritised his career aspirations over potential outside influences.
“He didn’t give up working like his peers, even when he needed a social life,” he told Goal. “In fact, there were times that I had to force him to have a social life. He said: ‘But teacher, I have to work.’ Such a professional player.”
Mourinho would no doubt have also enjoyed Celik’s defensive capabilities, with the 23-year-old recording a higher number of tackles (3.4 to 2.0), interceptions (1.8 to 1.5) and fewer times dribbled past (1.2 to 1.5) than Doherty per league appearance this term.
But Doherty’s successful adaptation to life in north London will ensure Spurs are more than happy with his output and have no regrets over missing out on Celik.