Before the start of the 2019 transfer window, despite going nearly 18 months without signing a player, Mauricio Pochettino guided his Tottenham Hotspur side to two consecutive top four finishes, as well as an agonising defeat in the most recent Champions League final, comfortably cementing himself as one of the best coaches in Europe.
It is then unsurprising to see the excitement and optimism around North London when looking at the signings the Santa Fe native has made this summer, with one in particular catching the eye; Argentine playmaker Giovani Lo Celso.
While not the only marquee signing to arrive at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, joining Tanguy Ndombele and Ryan Sessegnon – as well as Jack Clarke, who has been loaned back to Leeds United – Lo Celso is most definitely the standout, and is sure to add his own style of class to the Tottenham midfield.
Until now, Pochettino has favored a 4-2-3-1 formation with Christian Eriksen generally providing the sole creative flair, drifting in from either flank in to a more central ‘10’ position, freeing up his flank for the over-lapping full-back, while Dele Alli would push forward to play just off Harry Kane up front and Heung-Min Son would drive menacingly at the opposition from the inside forward position on the opposite flank.
However, we may now see a change from Pochettino, with it being difficult finding a starting place for Lo Celso in this set-up.
What seems most likely on paper is a switch to a 4-3-1-2, a formation in which Lo Celso thrived at the last Copa América under Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni.
Here, Tottenham’s back four would largely remain the same as last season, with Serge Aurier taking the place of the departed Kieran Trippier, but further forward in the middle of the park, Lo Celso could be the key that unlocks a potential title-winning midfield.
Fellow new signing Tanguy Ndombele would sit at the base of the triangle, dropping deep when attacking to allow the centre-half pairing to move slightly wider and cover for the wing-backs, who provide the width in Pochettino’s side.
While either side of the Frenchman is where Lo Celso and Eriksen would operate, the former taking some of the creative burden off the shoulder’s of the Dane, and also providing the odd goal, scoring 16 goals in all competitions for Quique Setien’s Real Betis last season and also providing six assists.
This midfield triumvirate mirrors that to Guardiola’s Manchester City, Ndombele as the deep lying midfielder and both playmakers in ‘free 8’ roles, as Guardiola described the positions and freedom he assigns to both Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.
In the attacking department, Pochettino has also formed a formidable partnership, where a fully fit Harry Kane guarantees over 25 league goals per season and Korean international Son picks the ball up out wide and makes his runs at the opposition.
Additionally, just in behind the front two may sit Dele Alli, not playing as a traditional ‘10’, but as a deep lying forward, whose heading and late runs in to the opposition penalty area work well for the slightly awkward player whom it is difficult to assign any particular role to.
Add to this the depth from the bench, with Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela lurking for a starting spot, the incredibly improved Moussa Sissoko – who can thank his current coach for his development in to a top midfielder – as well as young and capable defenders Juan Foyth, Ryan Sessegnon and Davinson Sánchez, and Spurs may just be set for a title challenge this forthcoming season.
All that remains to be seen is whether or not they can hold on to their top players, with the transfer window in the other top leagues in Europe not closing until August 31st.