One of the great paradoxes about transfer rumors about underperforming or want-away players is that in the rare circumstances where they start to turn things around, the rumors actually increase instead of going away.
Take Giovani Lo Celso for example. Gio’s been linked with a move away from Tottenham Hotspur almost from the moment he arrived at the club. We all know the reasons for this — he was hired to play for Pochettino-style football and instead suffered through three consecutive managers that didn’t fit his style, etc. Ange Postecoglou keeping him glued to the bench for the opening 10 matches of this season probably didn’t help perception any. But since James Maddison’s injury, Gio has had an opportunity to play, and he’s taken full advantage of that opportunity, becoming a regular fixture in the midfield and significantly raising his profile.
So that means he’s no longer linked with moves away from the club, right? Nope. It means he’s just attracted a whole different tier of club interest. According to Sky Sports’ Lyall Thomas, Lo Celso is now a priority target for Barcelona manager Xavi in the January transfer window.
The gist is that, despite only recently breaking into his club’s first team, Gio has been exceptional for Argentina, even getting plaudits from the big fella Lionel Messi himself. Gio is considered one of the most techically gifted members of the Albiceleste and that makes him a prime target to replace Gavi, who is out at least nine months with an ACL injury, in Barca’s midfield. The article states that Barca’s potential pursuit of Lo Celso is “a test of how much support Xavi has in Barca’s hierarchy.”
So, look — I don’t know whether Gio wants to stay at Tottenham long term or not. Nor do I really know whether Spurs would consider selling him in January. I suspect it’s a tall ask, especially if Maddison is truly out until February at the earliest, and even when Madders comes back Spurs will be in a bit of a midfield pickle until after AFCON.
I also have serious doubts that Barcelona actually has money to spend in January without pulling “palancas” and searching the Camp Nou couches for spare change. My guess is that if they to attempt a move for Gio, it’ll be something stupid like a half-season loan, which will make it easy for Spurs to tell them to bugger off.
But if they do offer real money that isn’t credits for the club shop or partially financed through sales of their stablecoin? IDK. Gio’s not getting any younger and has a somewhat sketchy injury history. A good January price could help finance a younger replacement, or additional funds towards getting a wide attacker or central defender in next month. I’m not entirely opposed to the idea of selling Gio late in the window, especially if he wants to go, and if Maddison and/or Rodrigo Bentancur make earlier-than-expected returns from their respective injuries.
That said, I’m suuuuuper skeptical that Barcelona has enough financial juice to make this happen, and unless it’s a deal that’s literally too good to refuse, it’s probably in Spurs’ best interest to do just that — refuse it.