Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho says he would not swap Giovani Lo Celso for any other player, after learning of Spurs’ failed move for Bruno Fernandes last summer.
Spurs conducted talks with Sporting Lisbon about signing Fernandes but failed to agree a deal.
However, after another impressive half-season in Portugal, Manchester United signed the 25-year-old in January.
Fernandes has made a stunning impact at Old Trafford, helping the club go 15 matches unbeaten.
However, after being told of Spurs’ unsuccessful move for the Portuguese – made while Mauricio Pochettino was manager – Mourinho insisted the club made the right decision in signing Lo Celso.
“I don’t know anything about that, but if that is true, and if Giovani Lo Celso was the player that came to Spurs [instead of Bruno Fernandes], then I would say I wouldn’t change Giovani Lo Celso for any player,” Mourinho told a press conference.
“[I wouldn’t swap Lo Celso] for any player. It’s not just for Bruno, but for any player.”
Tottenham brought Lo Celso in on loan from Real Betis last summer, making the deal permanent in January.
MOURINHO EXPLAINS LO CELSO’S RISE
Mourinho also explained how the Argentine has risen to become a key player under his stewardship.
“I came to the club and he wasn’t playing. I think the only match he started was Red Star Belgrade away in the Champions League. Apart from that he was not playing,” Mourinho added (via the Daily Mail).
“When I arrived I went in other directions and he did exactly what I love a player to do: ‘I’m going to show you’.
“[There was] no spoiled kid reactions, no crying, no moaning, no agents and family throwing messages to the press and to the social media.
“It was just between him and me: ‘I’m going to show you’, and he showed me step-by-step.
“He’s working with lots of different conditions to try to play and to try to resist until the end of the season. So what you see from Gio now is not the end product – he’s a fantastic player for us.”
MOURINHO’S MESSAGE TO NDOMBELE
Elsewhere, Mourinho backed midfielder Tanguy Ndombele to overcome his tough first season at Spurs.
The Frenchman has struggled with fitness problems and ran into trouble with Mourinho in March.
The manager called on Ndombele to work harder in matches, but has now offered the player his full support.