Giovani Lo Celso should continue his midfield apprenticeship vs. Dijon

Giovani Lo Celso should continue his midfield apprenticeship vs. Dijon
From ESPN - January 16, 2018

PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain host Dijon in Ligue 1 on Wednesday with the chance to pull further clear of the chasing pack after Monaco dropped further points at home to Nice on Tuesday.

Lyon could remain within 11 points of the French capital outfit if they can win away at Guingamp, but PSG's current lead is arguably already unassailable.

Coach Unai Emery has Neymar back in his squad but is without Thiago Motta, which means that either Adrien Rabiot or Giovani Lo Celso will start in defensive midfield, depending on who else the Spaniard wants to field in the middle.

Regardless of whether or not Emery wants to start Julian Draxler as one of his three midfielders, Lo Celso should be given the chance to continue his run of matches in the deep-lying role.

Speaking about the Argentina international at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday, the Basque tactician was full of praise for Les Parisiens' No. 18 as he continues his conversion from further up the pitch.

"Giovani arrived at the club a year ago and has worked very hard and patiently to create opportunities for himself," Emery told journalists at Camp des Loges. "He played one minute, then two, then 15... He has earned more and more playing time.

"Giovani has improved and progressed by working hard. He is a good example. He has trained at playing the No. 6 position in training and he has done well in this role in matches."

Lo Celso has done very well when played as an alternative to Motta of late -- surprisingly so -- and his ability to play in that position has also relieved Rabiot, who can play there but is better and personally prefers to be deployed in one of the two more advanced berths.

The 21-year-old from Rosario is naturally a more attacking player and his creative streak makes him more similar to Javier Pastore than Motta, but his tenacity also makes the defensive midfield role workable for him and at this stage in his development, where he needs minutes, it is important that he is getting onto the pitch regularly.

Mid-table Dijon are not the toughest of opponents but not exactly walkovers either, and their desire to play good football and not shut up shop at every opportunity makes an entertaining midweek encounter a possibility.

Lo Celso would benefit greatly by being heavily involved in this, especially with Lyon away to come on Sunday and the potential return of Motta from his latest injury setback.

Emery praised Olivier Dall'Oglio's men ahead of the match, and keeping in mind their quality in midfield, a repeat of the coherent Lo Celso, Rabiot and Marco Verratti triumvirate from Nantes is not a bad idea.


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