Cristian Romero must repay Tottenham support but fan anger is misplaced

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The news that Cristian Romero is expected to miss Tottenham's next three fixtures but return to fitness for Argentina's opening World Cup match has infuriated some Spurs fans, who have accused the defender of lacking commitment.

It comes after the Argentine FA failed to have their Premier League stars released early for the tournament.

Romero has missed three of Spurs' last four matches and Antonio Conte said he took a "big, big risk" in playing him against Sporting Lisbon last week, as the centre-half struggles with muscle fatigue.

In defence of Romero, his reluctance to take further risks with his body immediately before the tournament is understandable and, like all internationals, he has been put in an invidious position by FIFA.

Competing in a World Cup is the pinnacle of most players' careers and the fulfilment of a childhood dream; asking them to jeopardise it by playing high-intensity club football until a week before the tournament is obviously ridiculous.

Cristian Romero will not play for Tottenham again before the World Cup (Getty Images)
Cristian Romero will not play for Tottenham again before the World Cup (Getty Images)

In the case of Argentina, this will be Lionel Messi's last World Cup and therefore surely his team-mates' best chance of winning it and immortalising themselves in the history of a country where football is like a mass-participation religion. Of course Romero is concerned about missing out as his body feels the strain.

That said, Romero has started 12 of 19 Spurs' games this season, and just 41 from 72 - or just 56 per cent - since he joined the club.

He has been unfortunate with injuries but his involvement with Argentina has caused issues in the past, as he prioritised country over club.

In September 2021, he defied club orders to join up with the national team while Argentina was on the red list of Covid destinations and subsequently missed two Spurs games while in quarantine. He also travelled to South America to join up with the squad in March, despite being suspended.

While fans should really direct their anger at FIFA for awarding the World Cup to Qatar and making a mockery of player welfare, it is also only reasonable to expect Romero to be fully focused on Spurs from Boxing Day onwards and start to repay the club's support.