There were a lot of heads being scratched after Tottenham Hotspur released their starting lineup against Chelsea today. Not only did Antonio Conte field what looked and felt like a makeshift starting XI, but Giovani Lo Celso was nowhere to be seen. Not in the starting lineup, not on the bench.
There was discussion that perhaps Gio had picked up another knock after Wednesday’s win at Leicester, or it had something to do with him being called up (again) for Argentina.
But then Gio posted this on his Instagram story.
Uh. Well, that’s not good. After the match, Antonio Conte was asked about Gio’s absence and had this to say:
“I selected the players for this game and for this question is one for the club to answer.”
To Sky Sports, he said this:
“I don’t want to comment on single players. There is the club to make the best decision. There is a sporting director and chairman and they take the last decision.”
Uh. Well, that’s not good either. There are now already reports, including one from Goal, that suggests that Lo Celso might now be heading for the exit door this month, along with Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli. Nizaar Kinsella writes that Spurs would listen to offers for Lo Celso with eight days left to go in the January window. Spurs won’t play football again until after the window closes.
There’s a reasonable inference to be made here that, just like with Tanguy and Dele, Conte doesn’t like Lo Celso or think he fits in with the tactics he’s trying to implement at Tottenham. That’s fair. Antonio Conte gets what he wants, and I think he’s already shown enough to be given the benefit of the doubt here.
But man, it just makes me so damn sad. On a personal level I feel like I have a ton of emotional investment in both Lo Celso and Ndombele’s Spurs tenures. Both of them were players we at Carty Free had been tracking for a while even before Spurs were interested in them. I was desperate for them to succeed. If this report is accurate (and nothing against Goal.com but I’d really like to see it corroborated by a source more closely linked to Spurs) it looks two of Tottenham’s biggest signings in the past decade are going to turn into two of their biggest failures.
That’s really hard to swallow. I’m going to need some time to process this, excuse me.