Sheffield United: Blades boss cracks a joke about Giovani Lo Celso

Four months ago, when his team's preparations for the new Premier League season began in earnest with a friendly against Real Betis, Chris Wilder was looking forward to watching one of Europe's most coveted players in action at The Algarve Stadium.

Friday, 8th November 2019, 1:24 pm
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 3:32 pm
Giovani lo Celso: John Walton/PA Wire.

Giovani Lo Celso had attracted interest from across the continent following an impressive campaign in La Liga. But when the bidding war started, and the numbers involved became astronomical, the Spaniards withdrew him from their meeting with Sheffield United. It denied Wilder the opportunity to assess the midfielder at close quarters although his squad, who went on to win 1-0, probably breathed a sigh of relief.

Tomorrow, having eventually joined Tottenham Hotspur in a £55m deal, the midfielder is being touted to start their Premier League meeting with the visitors from South Yorkshire.

"They've got an awful lof of good players," Wilder said, joking Betis' selection policy had also robbed him of the chance to try and hijack Lo Celso's move. "Good young players too. It's a club I've got an enormous amount of respect for. I enjoy the manager, he has a structure and an identity. If it'as good enough for the best teams in the division, having an identity, then it's good enough for us."

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The Algarve Stadium: (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Spurs view Lo Celso has a long-term replacement for Christian Eriksen, who has been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United. Given the Dane's indifferent performances at the start of the campaign, there have been calls for Mauricio Pochettino to select the 23-year-old ahead of Eriksen for this weekend's match. Lo Celso, whose loan will be made permanent at the end of the campaign, enjoyed more touches of the ball than any other player on the pitch during Spurs' Champions League victory over Red Star Belgrade in midweek. Tanguy Ndombele, aged 22, could also be handed an opportunity against United after impressing in the tie.

Spurs reached the final of the competition last season, before being beaten by Liverpool and Wilder, whose newly promoted side are sixth, said: "When we talked about how tough the division was, the Champions League final was played between two English clubs and the favourites, another English club (Manchester City), were not even in the final."