Tottenham Hotspur fans are close to seeing what many of them believe is the ‘dream midfield’ for the Lilywhites – after Jose Mourinho hinted that Tanguy Ndombele and Giovanni Lo Celso are capable of playing together.
Mourinho Hints at Ndombele-Lo Celso Partnership Going Forward
Lo Celso’s Current Lack of Minutes Due to Fitness Issues
Up until Thursday, October 29, Tottenham’s first-choice eleven was difficult to choose. A busy transfer window had resulted in competition for places being stronger than ever.
The 1-0 loss to Royal Antwerp in the Europa League certainly burst the bubble that Spurs’ squad depth was bordering on ridiculous.
Indeed, Mourinho’s comments after that match suggested that, going forward, his starting eleven would be a lot easier to pick, after a raft of lethargic performances from his players:
“It’s my responsibility to give them [the players] opportunities to play and catch the chance with both hands and be in conditions to ask for more.
“And tonight my future choices are going to be very easy.”
One of those who started the match in Belgium was Lo Celso. The Argentine midfielder has found his minutes limited lately, although that’s not due to a lack of ability.
Fitness has always been an issue for Lo Celso – the most recent injury resulting in his withdrawal from the Argentina squad for World Cup qualifiers last month.
As such, his ability to start matches in the Premier League isn’t at the required level yet.
Lo Celso’s Cameo Against Brighton & Hove Albion Demonstrates Class
For many Spurs fans, Lo Celso being paired with a now-revitalised Tanguy Ndombele is the ‘dream midfield’.
The former Real Betis player created more chances than any other Spurs player on the pitch – despite only playing for 26 minutes.
The only issue was that he replaced Ndombele, as opposed to joining him on the pitch.
However, Mourinho told football.london that the prospect of the two playing together was edging closer:
“Gio brought that dynamic back to the team for the last 20 minutes. He did well for us.”
“He is a player that needs to work, no pre-season and no end to last season. It was easy to see against Antwerp, especially to play as a central midfielder he didn’t have that fitness.”
“To play with a Number 10, with that freedom, yes he could help us. Can he play one day together with Tanguy? Yes they can but they both need to be physically in a better condition.”
As Mourinho mentions, Ndombele’s fitness has also been suspect, particularly last season. This campaign, however, we have seen the Frenchman re-energised.
The former Lyon man is his best form since joining the club in 2019. His absence against Antwerp was notable, as Spurs lacked his quick passing in the middle of the pitch, which Mourinho noted in the post-match interviews.
Ndombele and Lo Celso Partnership Key – But Fixture List Won’t Allow Experimentation
Should Tanguy Ndombele be joined by a fully-fit Lo Celso, then the Spurs midfield would look – on paper at least – highly impressive.
Spurs have been so close to winning the Premier League over the last five years. This season, it’s wide open once again.
A midfield duo of Ndombele and Lo Celso – backed up by the impressive Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – could be the key to a title success.
However, the two are yet to start a match together this season – and we’re already in November.
A difficult stretch of matches awaits Tottenham in the coming weeks. In the space of a month, from November 21, Spurs play Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester City.
That run of fixtures does not allow for experimentation. Mourinho will pick a team which is tried and tested.
Spurs fans will be hoping both midfielders heed Mourinho’s words and find their full fitness within the next two-and-a-half weeks.
Otherwise, it could be a case of Tottenham falling short when it matters most once again.