(Ben W) #1
(Real Betis, Spa & Arg)
Deemed unfit for purpose last summer
by new Paris Saint-Germain coach
Thomas Tuchel and promptly sent on
loan to Spanish outfit Real Betis, the
midfielder has bounced back with
a vengeance, so impressive for the
Verdiblancos that La Liga hot-shots Real
Madrid and Barcelona are now rumoured
to want him.
Asked if PSG have committed a
mistake in this instance, one would have
to say yes. Betis, who have the right to
buy “Gio” for €25million at the end
of the season, know a cash-generating
opportunity when they see one. Three
steps to a sizeable profit: acquire the
22-year-old’s papers, make tracks
to the Bernabeu or Camp Nou and

conduct a double-your-money sell-on.
During his 18 months at PSG, who he
joined from his hometown club Rosario
Central in early 2017, Lo Celso for the
most part looked what he was: a talented
South American kid struggling to adjust
to the European game. A poor game
a year ago in a 3-1 loss to Real Madrid
in a Champions League round-of-16 tie
sealed his fate at the Parc des Princes.
Too much, too young was the refrain.
Not that his problems at PSG were
entirely of his own doing. With the benefit
of hindsight, the Parisian side’s boss at
the time, Unai Emery, made an error
by often deploying him out of position
as an enforcer in front of the back four.
The Argentinian rookie had neither the
physical intensity or the awareness for

that role. It was a classic case of a square
peg meeting a round hole.
If Lo Celso is now thriving with Betis
it’s because he can play to his strengths
there. Quique Setien, his coach at the
Estadio Benito Villamarin, uses him much
further forward, where he can showcase
his creativity and shooting power.
Talk about a phoenix from the ashes.
He has been nothing less than a marvel
for Betis this term, intelligently pulling the
playmaking strings and especially potent

when linking with midfield partner-in-
crime Sergio Canales.
“I have to say I do feel more at home
as a box-to-box player,” says Lo Celso. “It
better suits my characteristics. I can be
closer to the opposition box and get on
the end of goalscoring chances.”
One of his best displays this term was
in the Europa League in October, with a
man-of-the-match masterclass as Milan
were beaten 2-1 in the San Siro. He ran
the show that night for the green-and-

(Marseille,
Fra & Ita)
The 28-year-old
agreed a six-
month loan deal
with Marseille in
January, effectively
ending his stay
at Nice, where
his relationship
had deteriorated
with coach Patrick
Vieira. The Italian’s
future beyond
June remains
uncertain.

(Eintracht Frankfurt,
Ger & Ser)
A two-year loan
spell at Eintracht
is set to end this
summer, with no
shortage of high-
end Champions
League clubs keen
to do a deal with
Benfica for the
21-year-old
centre-forward,
who has simply
blossomed in
the Bundesliga.

MARIO BALOTELLI LUKA JOVIC


GIOVANNI LO CELSO


MOST WANTED Loan stars


“I do feel more at home
as a box-to-box player.
It better suits my
characteristics. I
can be closer to the
opposition box and
get on the end of
goalscoring chances”