Sometimes, football pundits comments need to be listened to in order for them to be believed and understood, but occasionally you can follow that process and all you are left thinking is ‘what the hell are you on about?’. This week BBC commentator and former Leeds United footballer Noel Whelan has put himself squarely in the latter category as he’s speculated that Tottenham Hotspur may have signed a ‘dud’ in Argentine international Giovani Lo Celso.
After our long chase over the summer for the 23-year-old former Real Betis player, wherein we finally secured a loan deal with an option to buy, he’s still adjusting to life at the club and in England and manager Mauricio Pochettino has used him as a substitute in three Premier League games so far, in order to help him settle in and get up to speed.
As we know, the player has typically and rather unfortunately been hit with an injury whilst he was on international duty for his country and the expectation is he’ll be out for around the next six weeks, but speaking to Football Insider, I just can’t get my head around Whelan’s preemptive claims.
“Have Spurs signed a dud? That’s the question. One thing for sure, I very much doubt he will have the same impact at the club as Christian Eriksen. What everyone is thinking is, ‘can he replace Eriksen, is he good enough’? We won’t know for a while, but it seems he’s been brought in as Eriksen’s long-term replacement, as it’s inevitable he’s leaving. Tottenham have made a big mistake not tying Eriksen down years ago to a big long-term deal, like they did with Harry Kane. You have to keep hold of players like them. They’re irreplaceable.”
If Lo Celso doesn’t have the same impact as Eriksen it doesn’t make him a dud. Maybe he’ll have his own impact that’s just as important, but in a slightly different way. By Whelan’s standards Spurs should never attempt to sign a striker again because no-one will live up to Harry Kane.
That’s before even addressing that as a former footballer, Whelan falls straight into the lazy pundit notion of clubs being able to force players to sign long term contracts, when they maybe don’t want to.
It seems looking at his thought process, he’d be the first to criticise had we signed Eriksen to a six year deal and then he spent half a season out injured. After all, his last gambit in our direction was to slam Pochettino for selling Kieran Trippier (as below) whilst seemingly not being aware that Trips is already on record talking about wanting to move on, whilst also demonstrating no background knowledge about the right back position at the club at all.