Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho criticised Giovani Lo Celso’s work without the ball in Thursday’s Europa League win over Ludogorets and says the Argentine is well short of match fitness.
Lo Celso, who sustained a hamstring injury in October that ruled him out of two Premier League games, scored Spurs’ final goal in a 3-1 win in Bulgaria before being replaced with 18 minutes remaining.
He impressed in attack, taking three shots and making three key passes as Spurs bounced back from last week’s shock 1-0 defeat to Royal Antwerp in Group J, while the former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder also proved he can help out defensively by winning all of his three duels and making two interceptions – a joint team-high.
However, Lo Celso lost possession 14 times, and Mourinho says the 24-year-old must show more intensity if he is to replicate the kind of form he showed during his maiden campaign in England last season.
“He was good with the ball and not very good without the ball,” Mourinho told a media conference. “His physical condition is not good. He didn’t have a pre-season.
“During the lockdown in the previous season he had problems. He didn’t train in that period when other guys were training so he has been up and down in his preparation.
— Giovani Lo Celso (@LoCelsoGiovani) November 5, 2020
“I feel that when he plays he’s not the Gio that we know, not the Gio that we know can be an amazing player. But with the ball, of course, great and he knows what he’s doing and understands the way we want to play.
“But we need more intensity to be fitter and to be stronger in the transitions. Of course, he played more than an hour, and for that hour was a football match that we needed to win but it was also a training session to improve his match fitness.”
Mourinho was so furious after last week’s reverse to Antwerp that he said he would like to have substituted all 11 players at half-time.
His team were far better against Ludogorets, registering 22 attempts and enjoying 56 per cent possession, but Mourinho warned Spurs’ fringe players they need to maximise their opportunities.
“We are speaking about top players, we are speaking about Tottenham players,” he added. “I always expect the maximum from them, so I am quite demanding and I am never happy with little.
“There are a few things in this game that I expect much more from us, but I am happy with the initiative and the responsibility after we scored the first goal and I am happy we won the game quite comfortably.
“People who are not playing regularly must feel that every minute they are on the pitch is a minute to prove, is a minute to enjoy, is to give the maximum.”
Tottenham travel to struggling West Brom on Sunday in the Premier League before the international break.
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