Spurs cannot afford another £55m mistake as Conte seeks an upgrade
Evening Standard|January 24, 2022
THIS time, there was little need for Antonio Conte to labour the point about the gulf in class to Chelsea, as Tottenham went down to a third defeat to their rivals in 19 days.
Dan Kilpatrick

The hat-trick of one-sided contests has underlined the chasm between the clubs, particularly when Spurs are missing players, as they were again in yesterday’s 2-0 loss, which ended Conte’s unbeaten start in the League.

Romelu Lukaku and Kepa Arrizabalaga combined were more expensive than Conte’s entire patched-up XI, although the disparity in cost between the squads was emphasised by the head coach’s decision to leave out Spurs’ two record signings.

Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso were both dropped from the squad, along with Dele Alli, for the final game of the transfer window, with the club desperate to offload the trio.

Ndombele and Lo Celso cost a combined £110million, £55m each, but Spurs are resigned to pursuing loan or swap deals for the pair (right) before the end of month.

Should they leave, Ndombele and Lo Celso would both have a strong case to be the club’s worst-ever signing, having between them played 90 minutes in just 16 League games in two-and-a-half years — Lo Celso seven and Ndombele nine.

Conte started with a back four in the Premier League yesterday for the first time since Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat at Arsenal in September 2016, when he switched to a three at half-time, and he said before the game he had chosen the formation to suit his available players.

It was telling the Italian would rather rip up his long-preferred system than rely on Ndombele, Lo Celso and Dele, and Spurs were second best. There are legitimate questions about the management of both Ndombele and Lo Celso at Spurs but their failures add to the pressure on the club to get it right in the transfer market this week.

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