Comparison: Spurs should land versatile playmaker instead of £70m goal-machine – opinion

Tottenham Hotspur have been linked with a number of midfielders in recent weeks.

It seems certain that manager Mauricio Pochettino will strengthen his squad this summer for the first time since January 2018.

And the club have been linked with two attacking midfielders: Sporting Lisbon’s Bruno Fernandes and Giovani Lo Celso of Real Betis.

A deal for either player could potentially smash the £42m Spurs paid to sign Davinson Sanchez from Ajax, their current club record deal.

Indeed, a £53m bid has already been tabled for Lo Celso and Sporting have slapped a £70m price-tag on Fernandes’ head.

But which would be the better signing for Spurs?

Football FanCast assesses the merits behind the respective deals…

Key Attributes

Bruno Fernandes in action v Qarabag

Both men are able attacking midfielders but Fernandes arguably grabs more headlines.

He hinted that he would leave Sporting after violence at the training ground, but was eventually convinced to stay at the club and his hard-running, free-scoring style has seen him emerge as one of the most in-demand playmakers in European football.

Indeed, along with Spurs, Manchester United have been heavily linked with a bid and one feels that he would slot right in were he to move to the Premier League.

Fernandes has the ability to pick a pass on the move, while also, as mentioned, having an eye for goal.

Lo Celso, formerly of PSG, is more understated but has emerged as a star at Betis.

He was snapped up for a fee of €25m (£22.37m) by the Spanish club after an initial loan spell from the French club and reportedly has an £88m release clause.

Capable of playing on either flank, he has come into his own as an attacking midfielder, and is a genuinely mercurial talent, particularly with the ball at his feet.

A brilliant dribbler, he can pick a pass, lash a shot at goal and also draw fouls, while his accuracy when it comes to distribution will surely endear him to Mauricio Pochettino.

Lo Celso is perhaps the lesser-known of the two because he does not play for an elite club, but he is every inch Fernandes’ match when it comes to his talents on the ball.

The stats

This is where things get interesting.

Fernandes has enjoyed a clutch season, to the point where one has to wonder whether he can ever repeat the numbers he has clocked in 2018/19.

Across 53 games, he has scored 32 goals and laid on 18 assists in all-competitions. Let that sink in.

Last season, again with Sporting, he scored 16 and registered 20 assists. That’s still phenomenal but it’s less breathtaking.

However, in 2016/17, he played for Sampdoria in Serie A, a markedly tougher league than Liga NOS. He scored five goals and registered three assists in 35 games.

At Udinese in 2015/16, it was a similar story, with three goals and four assists.

Perhaps he has merely found his level.

Lo Celso, on the other hand, has proven his calibre at a prestigious standard of football.

Since his move from PSG, he has scored 16 goals and laid on six assists in La Liga.

At the French club, he netted six goals and laid on seven assists, but one has to feel that the Spanish top-flight is actually tougher than France.

So is it that Lo Celso has stepped up whereas the opposite is true of Fernandes? It is not quite that simple; at Rosario Central in Argentina, Lo Celso scored just three times in 45 outings.

To compare their effects on games, beyond just goals and assists, one has to dig a little deeper.

Fernandes, for example, averages 3.2 key passes in the league, per WhoScored, along with 3.6 shots, while he is fouled 2.4 times. His pass success rate is 75.1%. He isn’t afraid of a challenge either, with 1.7 tackles per game and 1.6 fouls.

Lo Celso’s stats are less impressive but they’re pertinent too. In La Liga, he averages 0.8 key passes per game, 2 shots and is fouled twice every 90 minutes. He makes 1.6 tackles and commits 0.5 fouls.

How much?

As mentioned, Lo Celso’s release clause stands at £88m and the BBC claim that a bid of £53m has already been tabled.

Any deal would indicate a notable change in transfer policy from Spurs, nearly doubling their record spend on a player who has, in reality, had one very good season.

Fernandes, meanwhile, is said to have a £70m price tag on his head, though he is more likely to leave for a fee in the region of £45m, per Daily Telegraph.

But Spurs aren’t the only club in for him and there’s no suggestion they would be willing to pay that much. Manchester United are also said to be attempting to secure his signature and that could influence contract negotiations.

Where would they play?

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen celebrates winning goal against Brighton

This really depends on whether Christian Eriksen stays at the club.

He has expressed his desire to take on a new challenge but Real Madrid are reported to have gone cold on the possibility of signing him.

If he stays, it would give Pochettino a selection headache.

Lo Celso would likely be fine because he could play on the right flank, an area where Spurs are actually rather thin beyond Lucas Moura. Erik Lamela is not really good enough.

He could then interchange with Eriksen, forming a rather fluid three along with Son Heung-min behind Harry Kane.

Fernandes, though, is more of a pure No.10.

That, then, would likely facilitate a position change for the Dane, who could be the one shunted to the flank.

He can play there and has on numerous occasions, but Fernandes has less versatility than the Argentine.


Fernandes is a genuinely terrible tackler. He picked up 16 yellow cards in 2018/19 and that is not a one-off. In 17/18, he was booked 12 times, and he clearly has a temper. To place his record into context, Watford’s Etienne Capoue, the player booked the most in the Premier League, picked up 14 yellow cards last season.

If he moves to Spurs, he will have to work on his discipline. He cannot be picking up suspensions at the same rate in English football.

Lo Celso, meanwhile, does not appear to be inclined to cross the ball too regularly. If he does play on the flank – provided Eriksen stays – he will certainly have to work on his delivery into the box.

Throughout the season, he averaged 0.1 crosses per game in all-competitions, though that figure has clearly been influenced by his role within the side.

If he is to start games on the wing, he may have to grow fonder of putting a ball in, instead of looking to cut back or beat his man.


Fernandes may be the more headline-grabbing acquisition but one feels that Lo Celso boasts the versatility that is needed by Spurs boss Pochettino.

Bringing in the Portuguese poses a major selection headache because he is predominantly a No.10.

Lo Celso, though, can play across the forward three and would be able to interchange fluidly with both Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli or, if he stays, Eriksen.

Versatility is key to this Spurs team; it has to be the Betis star.

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