Hey, don’t look now but we’re just over a week away from yet another international break. Focus these days has been on Tottenham Hotspur’s Argentinian contingent, especially after defender Juan Foyth and midfielder Giovani Lo Celso were both called up to represent the Albiceleste for matches vs. Brazil and Uruguay in mid-November. (Sadly, Erik Lamela and Paulo Gazzaniga were not called up.)
You might remember what happened the last time Giovani Lo Celso played for Argentina — he got clattered in a stupid “friendly” match against rivals Chile and ended up missing nearly two months with a hip injury. He still hasn’t started a match for Tottenham this season since joining this summer.
Mauricio Pochettino is aware of what happened to Gio the last time, and said he’s none too pleased to see him get called up again.
“In general always the manager you want your players at home. For him it’s going to be tough because when he’s nearly fit again to start to play he needs to go away. Changing the dynamics of training sessions situations can happen, some wrong situations. Being honest I am not happy, but I accept as I always defend the national team and back the decision of national team as I was a player and know what it feels to play. I can do nothing, only to show and describe my feelings.”
These are interesting comments from Poch, because they show the tightrope that club managers need to walk with regards to their players and international competition. Pochettino said in his book that he loved playing for Argentina as a player, and he again says it again here. He also knows that a lot of players think it’s super important to represent their country on international duty whenever possible, so he’s more inclined to let them go instead of letting the player come down with a nasty case of “internationalitis.” As an Argentine himself, it also benefits Poch to keep a genial relationship with the Argentina federation, as he’s on record saying he wants to manage the Albiceleste one day.
But in Gio’s case, it’s a risk, as he’s only just coming back from his injury. It could work out great, as if he gets significant minutes it could help work him into match fitness for Spurs. But if he gets used too much, or if he picks up a stupid knock again, it could once again set his integration into the Tottenham squad back a few steps.
It’s also worth noting that Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni did the same thing with Juan Foyth in the previous international break, calling up the youngster when he was fresh back from his injury and playing him 90 minutes at right back.
I have no idea what Scaloni’s plans for Lo Celso are or how much he’ll play (if at all). Only thing we can do is cross our fingers and pray to the football gods that he stays healthy.