Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho has claimed that he wouldn’t swap Giovani Lo Celso for Bruno Fernandes, who Spurs came close to signing before Lo Celso arrived last summer.
Lo Celso was a deadline day acquisition for Spurs on loan from Real Betis in August, and has since made the £27m permanent switch to north London. Fernandes, meanwhile, came to the Premier League in January when Manchester United finally agreed a deal with Sporting CP.
United had also been linked with Fernandes during the summer but it was actually Spurs who seemed to have the best chance to sign him at that time. The player himself revealed soon after that transfer window closed that he was ready to join them, only for Spurs to fail to agree a deal with Sporting.
The midfielder deal that Spurs did complete was the one for Lo Celso, who ultimately missed a number of games earlier in the season because of injury and has only more recently begun to settle.
The 24-year-old scored 16 times for Betis in all competitions last season but has failed to net in the Premier League so far. Yet while the Argentine’s impact to date has been less than that which Fernandes has had in Manchester, Mourinho is obviously determined to back his own player.
The Spurs boss understandably refused to be drawn on suggestions the club ought to have regrets about Lo Celso when another player elsewhere they have no control over is flying.
“I don't know anything about that, but if that is true, and if Giovani Lo Celso was the player that came to Spurs [instead of Bruno Fernandes], then I would say I wouldn't change Giovani Lo Celso for any player,” Mourinho told Sky Sports.
The ex-Chelsea, Inter, Real Madrid and Manchester United boss said that he has been impressed by Lo Celso’s attitude and determination to prove himself after a difficult start to the season.
“When I arrived I went in other directions and he did exactly what I love a player to do: 'I'm going to show you’,” the Portuguese explained.
“[There were] no spoiled kid reactions, no crying, no moaning, no agents and family throwing messages to the press and to the social media. It was just between him and me: 'I'm going to show you', and he showed me step-by-step.”