The curious case of Giovani Lo Celso's missing Tottenham minutes after Ange Postecoglou admission

Giovani Lo Celso has spent the vast majority of his season on the Tottenham bench

Giovani Lo Celso really must be wondering what he has to do to get a start in Ange Postecoglou's Tottenham team. At a time when Spurs have been struggling in the Premier League, the Argentina international has had to settle for minutes here and there for the Lilywhites.

What makes his lack of game time all the more puzzling is the fact that he is a regular in the Argentina side when away from Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on international duty. Remaining in north London this season rather than heading out either on loan or permanently, Lo Celso proved his worth to Postecoglou and Spurs in late November and early December with strong performances and goals against Aston Villa and Man City.

His year then came to an end with two assists in the team's 3-1 win over Bournemouth on New Year's Eve. As has been the case since his move to the capital in the summer of 2019, injury once again forced the 28-year-old to spend some time in the treatment room and it wasn't until midway through February when he made his first appearance of 2024 in the home defeat to Wolves.

Since his return against Gary O'Neil's team, Lo Celso has played a grand total of 76 minutes across 10 league appearances. The most amount of minutes the player received in one of those 10 appearances came against Luton Town when he got 22 minutes under his belt, with the ex-Real Betis man getting 15 minutes in Sunday's defeat to Liverpool and 14 minutes in the home win over Nottingham Forest.

For the most part, Lo Celso has had to settle for five minutes or less in six games since his return. Even in matches where the result has been out of sight for quite some time, most notably the big away defeats at Fulham and Newcastle United, Postecoglou has elected against introducing Lo Celso earlier and instead brought him on with barely any time left to influence the result.

Despite showing a bit of fight and looking to make things happen in the final third in his cameo appearance against Chelsea in midweek, Lo Celso remained on the substitutes' bench at Liverpool and came on for the final 15 minutes of the defeat with the score at 4-1. He did play a part in Spurs' late comeback as the team pushed forward on a number of occasions and looked to add to Richarlison and Son Heung-min's goals.

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Lo Celso was desperate to get on the ball and get Tottenham on the move as they tried to salvage a shock result. Although the midfielder was only on the pitch for 15 minutes, he still managed to record 31 touches of the ball and his numbers from the game were rather impressive.

Registering a pass completion rate of 88% after successfully completing 23 of his 26 passes, Lo Celso also made four passes into the final third, he was accurate with three of his four long balls, he created one chance and he won all three of his ground duels. Always progressive with his passing and looking to break the lines, Spurs have really missed a player of Lo Celso's quality in the team of late, especially as things haven't clicked for them in the final third.

James Maddison's current woes make the Argentine's lack of playing time baffling given the team's need to get back on track. Speaking at the beginning of April, Postecoglou was asked by about Lo Celso's shortage of minutes and the Australian dropped a hint that the midfielder may not be at the club next season.

"It is not just him," said Postecoglou. "There has been a few in that boat where they just haven't had a real good run in terms of there has been injury disruptions and other times when he has been fit, other players have played in his position, but I still think Gio's been good for us this year.

"Through that middle patch when we had a lot of injuries, he really stood up for us and then got his own injury of course. He made a real impact against Luton at the weekend and it really helped us get over the line.

"Look, he's a fantastic player, but with all these things you've got to keep the perspective that we're at a big club, we're going to have a big squad and if it is not Gio, it will be someone else that will play that role next year. No one will play every game. It doesn't happen. It doesn't happen at all the big clubs, so I am never really worried about the game time players are playing.

"If they want more game time, there are other clubs where they can do that and I'm looking at contribution. With someone like Gio, like I said he has contributed to us this year and that's been the most important thing for me."

Lo Celso has certainly contributed for Tottenham off the bench of late but many fans believe he should be doing so for the team from the very first whistle. Quite whether that is the case at home to Burnley is up in the air at present but the player has certainly given Postecoglou something to think about with another positive display in very little time.

With things just not really working for Tottenham at present, Postecoglou could do far worse than to give Lo Celso a start from the off.

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