If you don’t know what this is, it is the annual look at the 50 best young players in Argentina – All the information about the list is in the first part.
And so at long last here is our number one…
Giovani Lo Celso 09/04/1996 Real Betis (loan from PSG) Attacking midfield
Paris Saint-Germain may have run away with Ligue 1 this season and it would be a stretch to suggest their Champions League failure would have been any different had he stayed but Giovani Lo Celso has gone some way to proving just how wrong the French club were to send the midfield playmaker out on loan.
That oversight has been Real Betis’ gain and Lo Celso has lit up La Liga this season in a manner befitting of the talent that was shown at a young age back in his native Rosario. Now confirmed as a permanent deal for the Verdiblancos after exercising their option to buy, the €22 million paid to PSG already looks a bargain.
Fifteen goals and three assists in all competitions this season for Betis have put Lo Celso back on the map and after reclaiming a starting role in the Argentina side, PSG are left to rue an error in the market. For Betis, on the other hand, Lo Celso’s permanent transfer is a win-win: Remain at the Estadio Benito Villamarín and become a central part of the starting eleven for the future or move swiftly on generating a huge profit for the club.
📣 OFFICIAL | #RealBetis activate the purchase option on Giovani Lo Celso 🤗👏
Following what was a largely frustrating period in Paris, the opportunity for Lo Celso to showcase his talent once more has been a vital step in a career that looked at risk of stagnating.
The deft touches, superb technique, eye of a needle passing and emphatic left foot finishing were all evident back in Rosario and prompted PSG to swoop in 2016. However, only glimpses were evident in Europe prior to this season and while Lo Celso displayed a greater defensive responsibility in Paris with Unai Emery often opting to utilise the youngster in a deeper midfield role, it is in his current advanced position where Lo Celso thrives.
It is there that the teenage Lo Celso shone. After climbing through the Rosario Central youth system, the then 19-year-old burst into the first team under Eduardo Coudet in 2015 as the elegant enganche evident now in Spain. Immediately at ease in the Argentine top flight, Lo Celso’s creativity behind centre forward Marco Ruben saw El Canalla mount a genuine title challenge and while silverware didn’t follow the downturn in form since the likes of Lo Celso departed the Gigante de Arroyito has been telling.
Under the capable watch of Quique Setién, Lo Celso has been able to reproduce such form in arguably the toughest league in world football. It was no surprise to see some of Europe’s biggest clubs hovering in case Betis didn’t exercise their option and although the club fell at the semi final stage of the Copa del Rey and are still pushing for Europa League qualification, Lo Celso has the chance to help build something.
The same could be said for the Albiceleste, where despite Jorge Sampaoli inexplicably overlooking the playmaker, a new-look midfield must find a place for Lo Celso at its core.
Thanks to anyone who helped out with compiling the list but special thanks to Tom Robinson for his input and player profiles. Part III will be up shortly…