If you’re a left-footed attacking midfielder from the city of Rosario in north eastern Argentina you’re in good company. Superstars like Angel Di Maria and Lionel Messi were both born in the city and the next man off the production line of creators from Rosario is Di Maria’s teammate at Paris Saint-Germain, Giovani Lo Celso. Lo Celso came through the ranks at local club Rosario Central and is now aiming to emulating the successful duo by becoming a household name in European football.
Lo Celso was born in April 1996 and has shot to prominence very quickly. He made his first team debut for Central in July 2015 and after 45 games and some very promising performances, PSG decided to part with £8.5m to sign the attacking midfielder in July 2016. The move thereby came just a year after his first team debut. Lo Celso remained at the club until January 2017 before moving permanently to Paris. During the six months of his loan back to Argentina, Lo Celso also represented his country at the 2016 Rio Olympics thereby earning important international experience.
Upon his move to France, Lo Celso had to wait three months before making his debut in a cup tie against US Avranches. Lo Celso added four Ligue 1 appearances and impressed with some stunning displays to highlight his potential and quality. This summer, head coach Unai Emery has started the Argentine in friendlies against both AS Roma and Tottenham and Lo Celso has impressed in both games. He looks to have earned some trust from his coach and looks set for a breakthrough season. But who is this largely unknown Argentine creator?
Lo Celso has a quite complete skill set which could see him play both in wide areas or centrally. His best position is either as a number 10 behind the striker or as one of the more attacking midfielders in a three-man central midfield. In Emery’s 4-3-3, Lo Celso slots seamlessly into the right central midfield role and fits perfectly with the manager’s style of play. PSG are a side that heavily emphasise the use of possession and short combinations to create chances and Lo Celso’s combination play is superb. He also boasts a good passing range which can see him hit accurate passes over longer distances, such as the first pass in the video below where he channels the quarterback within himself.
As you see, the midfielder is very adept at linking play both with short passes and longer ones which makes him ideal for Emery’s preferred style. In the attacking third, Lo Celso is sublime at finding through passes to create chances and thereby also goals. Moreover, he also boasts a good shot which makes him a threat from distance if he’s given space outside the penalty area.
Another feature of his game that is highly sought after in the modern game is his ability to beat opponents in midfield by dribbling. Lo Celso’s close control and acceleration makes him a difficult player to defend against as he can break the defensive lines of the opposition either by passing or dribbling through them. His technical ability with the ball and calmness when in possession also sees him become very resistant to pressure as he remains calm and in charge of the situation. This is vital as he can keep his side in possession and hopefully attract pressure which will open up space for teammates.
Below is an example from the game against Tottenham last week when this ability to remain calm under pressure shows its worth. Lo Celso initially receives the ball in an area where he’s surrounded by opposing players looking to move in to press him. The midfielder remains calm, finds a teammate in space and from there PSG produce a stunning move to create a goal. A lesser player than Lo Celso might have panicked and gotten rid of the ball and likely surrendered possession, but Lo Celso played a vital part in creating a goal.
Lo Celso’s speed, acceleration, balance, intelligence and technical ability makes him an attacking player with a close to complete skill set. The move below emphasises everything he is as a player; the speed of thought, the acceleration, the creativity and the skill. And then there is that finish. Enjoy.
Still, despite all his potential and promise, this is a player who’s made only five appearances in European football. The sky is the limit in terms of ability, but Lo Celso has a fight on his hands to even earn minutes on the pitch. Luckily, Lo Celso has the potential to play in different positions by looks best suited to appearing in central midfield where he can use his quality to influence games. With PSG reportedly chasing Neymar and Alexis Sanchez this summer, competition for places is only going to get tougher but if Lo Celso can continue his development and be consistent in his performances then the 21-year-old will certainly improve under Emery.
If so, we might be adding Giovani Lo Celso’s name to that illustrious list of left-footed greats from Rosario very soon.