Fabio Paratici’s gift for Nuno Espirito Santo can revolutionise Antonio Conte’s Tottenham plan

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There was a welcome sight for Antonio Conte and all Tottenham fans on Saturday evening as Cristian Romero made his long-awaited return to the Spurs XI.

Sustaining a serious hamstring injury on Argentina international duty back in November, the 23-year-old had spent almost three months working his way back to fitness before the Tottenham head coach handed him a start in the 3-1 FA Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albion.

Romero’s previous involvement in the Lilywhites XI was in the 0-0 draw away at Everton at the start of November, which in fact came at the end of Conte’s first week in charge at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium following Nuno Espirito Santo’s exit.

Over the past three months Spurs have made big strides at the back and don’t look as vulnerable as they did a few months earlier, with Eric Dier and Ben Davies deservedly earning plaudits for their displays and Davinson Sanchez also taking his game to another level under Conte.

Romero has been a big miss in that period, however, proving why exactly he has been missed with such a composed and assured display at the back against Graham Potter’s men

Harry Kane may have come out with the Tottenham man of the match award but on another day Romero could well have just nudged ahead of him and collected the prize.

The Argentine was superb and looked like he had never been away.

Receiving a big cheer ahead of the game when his name was read out, he then experienced another one midway through the first half after a crunching tackle on Tariq Lamptey.



Cristian Romero made life incredibly difficult for Neal Maupay in Tottenham's FA Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albion
Cristian Romero made life incredibly difficult for Neal Maupay in Tottenham’s FA Cup win over Brighton & Hove Albion

There was simply no way the Brighton man was getting the ball and he was duly sent crashing to the ground when Romero sprinted over from his central berth to expertly win possession just inside the area.

The defender’s reading of the game, anticipation and aggressiveness has really caught the eye during his short time at the club and this was evident over the course of his 77 minutes on the pitch.

Needing to be on his game in the second half as the Seagulls upped the pressure, Romero frustrated Neal Maupay numerous times as he burst out of Spurs’ backline and nipped in front of him to come out with the ball.

Also putting his body on the line to head away from danger just outside the box, he also embarrassed Brighton’s French striker on another occasion where he came out with the ball in a challenge before turning the frontman inside out with a slick turn to set Spurs off on the counter.

No surprise to see the player cramping up late on in his first game in three months, Romero certainly deserved his standing ovation as he made way for Joe Rodon with 13 minutes of the contest left.

Asked by Spurs TV about what was near enough a perfect evening for the club, Conte opened up about the return of his defender and Son Heung-min at such a key time in the season.

“It was important and I am happy to see again Son and Romero to play after serious injuries,” he revealed. “We needed to have all the players to try and go ahead in every competition, in the FA Cup and in the league.

“It was important to see the two new signings on the pitch and to be involved very soon.

“I think a good night but now it’s important to put this aside and then to concentrate on Wednesday because we have another important game.

“The league is important for us and we have to play against Southampton and we need to try and give everything to get the three points.”

In a good position in the league with games in hand to go all out for a Champions League spot, the return of both Romero and Son from injury could be key for Tottenham between now and May.

Conte quite clearly rates the centre-back, who was bought for Espirito Santo by Fabio Paratici, extremely highly, often speaking with excitement when he does mention the 2020/21 Serie A defender of the year in his press conferences.

Romero may have only played in three of Conte’s games so far but he has an integral part to play for Tottenham this season and then in the years ahead.

His loan deal from Atalanta comes with an option to buy rather than obligation, although that is something the club do not have to think twice about as he can be Tottenham’s leader at the back for years to come and also go on to become one of the world’s best defenders as many have already predicted.

Impressing on his return against Brighton and also since his move from Atalanta, Romero is only going to get better working under Conte day in, day out at Hotspur Way.

Finally having the chance to work with his first-choice backline of Romero, Dier and Davies again, it could be the Argentine’s comeback that helps Tottenham see off the challenge of Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham in the race for fourth.

Romero is that good and the rest of the Premier League could soon be about to discover the gem Conte and Tottenham have in their hands.

Source by Football London

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