Spurs target Lo Celso falls short of Christian Eriksen in one key area – opinion

This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…

Giovani Lo Celso could make a huge move to Tottenham Hotspur this summer, per the Daily Mirror.

The Real Betis midfielder could become the club’s record signing, with a £70m fee mooted. It would eclipse the £53.8m that was paid earlier this summer for midfielder Tanguy Ndombele.

What exactly would the Argentina international bring to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, though?

Per Understat, Lo Celso is most often deployed as an attacking midfielder and he is a remarkably intricate player.

He made a total of 27 key passes in the 2018/19 season and 18 of them came in the penalty area. A key pass in this metric means a pass leading to a shot. He had just seven outside of the box.

Seven of his goals – he scored nine in La Liga – came in the penalty area, too, with only one coming from outside. One came from inside the six-yard box.

Indeed, Lo Celso had the highest expected goals (xG) rate in the area as well as the highest expected assists (xA) number compared to anywhere else on the pitch.

To analyse his shot map is to see a player who regularly tries the spectacular; he missed seven efforts from outside the box and five from inside. His goal actually came from inside the D, too, rather than being a 30-yard screamer.

His creative output, though, pales in comparison with the man he could replace: Christian Eriksen.

The Denmark international confirmed after the Champions League final that he could leave the club this summer but his intricacy is unmatched by Lo Celso.

Per Understat, Eriksen laid on 73 key passes last season – 46 more than the Betis star – and 42 of them came in the penalty area. He registered seven assists in the area to Lo Celso’s three.

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However, the current Spurs star scored just twice inside the box, with an xG of 2.15.

Lo Celso, then, is an option that adds something the club do not already have. He is a less nuanced attacking threat than Eriksen but he does score more goals.

He needs to pass the ball more, though, and attempt to find his team-mates on a more regular basis.

Spurs are a bigger club than Betis and they have the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min to call upon. If Lo Celso is passing the ball to those three, his stats will likely increase.

But, even still, he will have to go some way to match the creative output presented by Eriksen.

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