The injury to Cristian “Cuti” Romero is even more serious than we feared. Tottenham Hotspur head coach Antonio Conte was asked about the status of Spurs’ central defender summer signing after he was injured while on international duty with Argentina in a match vs. Brazil a couple of weeks ago, and while the injury was already known to be serious, it’s actually even worse.
Bad news for #THFC from Conte, who describes Romero's injury as "very serious". Says we won't see him before the new year and expects he'll be back in January or February.— Charlie Eccleshare (@CDEccleshare) December 1, 2021
"It will take time before we see him again. He's trying to recover but he needs a long time for that."
“[On Cuti] the news is not positive, not good. The injury is serious and I think it will take time before to see him again. Surely next year and we need to check his injury week by week but the injury is serious.
“Now he is trying to recover, he needs a long time. He needs time to recover. It’s a pity because he’s an important player for us but the injury is very serious. January, February I don’t know but 2021 is finished to play. We have to wait to recover well but the injury is serious.”
That’s the bad news. But there’s good news on another injured Argentine player — Giovani Lo Celso — is close to a return for Spurs, and by the tone of Conte’s comments it looks like Gio is firmly in Conte’s plans for Spurs in the near term. Conte confirmed that Lo Celso would not feature in tomorrow’s match against Brentford, but that he’s due back in training on Friday
“The situation with Gio is much better than Romero. My expectation is to see him the day after we play Brentford. He has started to work, Gio is another player we need to exploit, he is a good player.”
That’s a relief! Gio has barely featured for Conte since his arrival, but his cause wasn’t exactly helped when he picked up a knock of his own while on international duty. Lo Celso has had a pretty up and down season under Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo, and now Conte, but it does make me exhale a little to hear Conte say that he plans to feature him once he’s healthy. It’s not much, but it’s something.
Conte went on to speak, obliquely, about his Tottenham squad and the upcoming January transfer window, and seemed to imply that he’s not necessarily looking at the open window next month as a chance to overhaul the squad.
“For now, January is very far. We need to be concentrated. We need to move up the table and get points. For us it’s very, very important to stick close to the teams above us, but January is very far. I need to make the right evaluations on my whole squad. We have to play many, many games. I trust these players. We are working hard.
“Honestly when I decided to become Tottenham manager I didn’t speak about this aspect. When you take a job, you have to make your evalutations and you have to feel your sensations. And honestly I felt Tottenham was the right club to work and to bring my ideas and philosophy of football. For this reason, I accepted the job.
“I didn’t talk about January or the way to improve the team. I repeat: I ‘m here because i have great enthusiasm, great patience to start a new work with Tottenham. If I’m here it’s because I want to build something important with the club.
“I know at the moment we’re a bit far from the top clubs but we need to work to improve the situation. To start to and also to create a good basis where you start – and then you build.
“We can do this and then our fans will support us and for sure, at the moment, it’s not simple, but I have great enthusiasm and great patience and I believe that here we can win something importance. We need patience and time but I have great desire to do something great.”
There’s a couple of ways to take these comments. They could be a suggestion that Tottenham are potentially not going to spend big money in the January transfer window or use that window as a means of overhauling the squad in the short term. It could also suggest that Conte believes he has the seeds of a good team at Spurs, with players he can develop. Both might be at least partially true — Conte has spoken frequently about how pleased he is with how his players work and want to improve, even as he has talked about the gulf in quality between Tottenham and the top sides in the Premier League.
On the other hand, January is a pretty terrible time to make substantial moves in the transfer window — the pool of good quality players is reduced from the summer window, and it often costs significantly more to pry those players away from their current teams than it would in the offseason. It’s not crazy to think that Spurs may do some poking around in the January market, but that fans shouldn’t expect wholesale changes next month.
Tottenham host Brentford tomorrow at White Hart Lane, with kickoff at 2:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. UK.