By Michael Hincks
Giovani Lo Celso: The Real Betis midfielder linked with Tottenham, Manchester United and Real Madrid
Last Updated: 29/05/19 10:23pm
Giovani Lo Celso has been linked with a move to Tottenham. Could the Real Betis midfielder become Spurs' first signing since January 2018?
It has only been one month since Betis made Lo Celso's switch permanent, with the Spanish club taking up their option to buy following the 23-year-old's successful loan spell from Paris Saint-Germain.
The Argentine was signed for €22m (£19m), and Marca reports Betis have already turned down an offer of €60m (£53m) from Spurs, which would be a club-record that surpasses the £40m spent on defender Davinson Sanchez.
However, Betis reportedly want a fee closer to the player's €100m (£88m) release clause before they consider selling, while Manchester United, PSG, and Real Madrid are other parties said to be interested.
Lo Celso Factfile
- Position: Central midfield
- Age: 23
- Nationality: Argentinian
- Current club: Real Betis
- Previous clubs: Rosario Central, PSG
- International caps: 12 (1 goal)
So what has made Lo Celso the target of some of Europe's top clubs? We take a closer look at his loan spell in Seville…
Lo Celso featured 45 times in central midfield for Betis in 2018-19, scoring 16 times and providing a further six assists.
Head coach Quique Setien deemed Lo Celso capable of playing in both a deep or advanced midfield role in his preferred 3-4-2-1 formation, and he quickly became an integral part of the club's possession-based game.
Only Barcelona (61.4%) averaged more possession throughout the La Liga season than Betis (59.4%), while they also ranked third for the most passes and second-lowest for the number of long balls played.
Betis' highlight of the season came when they took Barcelona on at their own game and succeeded, with Lo Celso on target in a thrilling 4-3 win at the Nou Camp in November.
However, while Lo Celso continued to shine, Betis endured a difficult 2019 and lost four of their last seven league matches to finish 10th - four places lower than the season prior - and it ultimately cost Setien his job.
There was disappointment in Europe too, with a 6-4 aggregate defeat to Stade Rennais coming after a 3-1 home loss in the Europa League last-32 second leg.
Again, Lo Celso starred with five goals in seven Europa League games, but he was powerless to prevent their exit.
View from Spain: Eriksen's replacement?
The "jostling" to sign Lo Celso has begun, Marca reports, with Spurs facing competition from Manchester United, PSG, and Real Madrid.
It would be a remarkable turn of events should PSG look to re-sign Lo Celso one year after letting him leave on loan, while the Ligue 1 champions will also reportedly make 20 per cent of any future sale.
Meanwhile, Madrid-based paper AS claim Spurs' interest in Lo Celso is due to fears Real Madrid could make a move for Christian Eriksen.
Back in January, Spanish football expert Graham Hunter told Sky Sports' Transfer Talk podcast that Real Madrid could make Eriksen one of their highest priorities this summer, while the Dane is yet to commit his long-term future to Spurs, with his current contract expiring in 12 months.
As a result, AS claim Lo Celso "holds they key" to Real's pursuit of Eriksen, but it appears Spurs will have to pay more than the rejected bid of €60m should they want to make the Argentine their first signing in 18 months.
Where would Lo Celso fit at Spurs?
Last month, Pochettino said he was hopeful Eriksen would sign a new contract at Spurs, but regardless of whether he stays or goes, it is evident Lo Celso would be in contention to start in several positions.
Pochettino flickered between numerous formations in 2018-19, and Lo Celso's versatility would suit the majority of central midfield roles, be it in a diamond 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, or 3-4-1-2.
Should he replace Eriksen, then naturally he would fill the Dane's position - which was frequently altered last season to fit each formation - while it could mean Lo Celso at times finds himself playing wider than he is accustomed to.
However, Lo Celso could also push Dele Alli for the attacking midfield spot, a role the England international frequented when in the side, while further back Eric Dier, Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks, and Victor Wanyama may well have new competition too.
Lo Celso is currently gearing up for the Copa America in Brazil, which starts on June 14, and as he hopes to help Lionel Messi and co end their 26-year wait for the trophy, he will also be aware of the reported interest from Europe's top clubs.
It is therefore set to be a busy summer for the Argentine. How busy exactly could depend on whether his release clause is met…
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