Romano reveals Spurs tried to ‘hijack’ Barcelona signing; confirms Xavi ‘appreciates’ 27-year-old

Jason Soutar
Tottenham players Giovani Lo Celso and Brennan Johnson square up to Manuel Akanji.
Giovani Lo Celso and Brennan Johnson square up to Manuel Akanji.

Giovani Lo Celso is appreciated by Barcelona boss Xavi but Tottenham would be “crazy” to let the midfielder leave the club in January, says Fabrizio Romano.

The Argentine international has been in good form for Ange Postecoglou’s side since coming in to the side for the injured James Maddison.

He was tidy in possession and found the back of the net during Sunday’s 3-3 draw at European champions Manchester City.

It was perhaps a bit of a surprise to see Lo Celso, 27, stay at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the summer transfer window but he has proven himself to be a big player for Postecoglou in recent weeks.

Speaking live on Kick, transfer expert Romano has revealed a summer switch to Barcelona “was a possibility”.

“In summer it was a possibility,” Romano said. “He was one of the names discussed by Xavi and (Barcelona director) Deco in the meetings they had about the midfield position.

“They discussed this chance to bring in Giovani Lo Celso, because he is a player from what I’m told is really appreciated by Xavi.

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“Xavi really considers Lo Celso an under-rated midfielder with very good skills. He would like to train Gio Lo Celso one day.

“But Lo Celso for Tottenham is an important player. He’s doing very good, he’s scoring goals, he’s performing at a top level, he has always been super professional, super serious also in training.

“Tottenham are very happy with Lo Celso and when they had possibilities for loan deals in the summer transfer window, they always said no.”

Romano adds that a January exit is extremely unlikely with Rodrigo Bentancur and Maddison injured, while Pape Matar Sarr and Yves Bissouma are expected to play at the African Cup of Nations in January.

“Now they have Bentancur injured, James Maddison still injured, many players not available in that position in January because Pape Sarr and Bissouma will go to the AFCON,” Romano said.

“I think it would be completely crazy of Tottenham to accept a loan proposal for Lo Celso and I don’t see Barca going there and investing money for a permanent transfer of Gio Lo Celso.

“The appreciation is there. The appreciation of Xavi is there. But I don’t think this is a realistic deal for the January window.”

Romano also revealed that Spurs tried very hard to hijack Barca’s signing of Brazilian starlet Vitor Roque.

“He’s not bad. Trust me. Vitor Roque is a special player,” the Italian journalist said.

“Barca did a big fight to sign Vitor Roque. Many clubs wanted Vitor Roque. Behind the scenes, Tottenham tried until the end of the story with Barcelona, ’til they signed the final page of the contract to hijack the deal.

“Tottenham were there and Tottenham were really strong and serious on that opportunity. Also other clubs wanted Vitor Roque.”

Meanwhile, 20-year-old English winger Samuel Iling-Junior is expected to leave Juventus in the winter transfer window with Spurs a ‘possible’ destination for him.

“The interest of English clubs in general is confirmed,” Romano said. “It’s a concrete possibility for Iling-Junior to go back to the Premier League.

“He would love to go back to England, this is priority for the January transfer window, so Tottenham could be a possibility.

“I think he is going to leave Juventus.”

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