Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte has insisted that he believes in winger Bryan Gil but stressed that he will introduce him to the team only at the right moment.
Gil was expected to be loaned out last summer and was on the verge of joining Valencia, but Tottenham decided to keep him as part of the first-team squad.
He has been a bit-part player at Tottenham but has impressed in his three cameo appearances in the Champions League.
With Dejan Kulusevski out injured, there is now a clamour for Conte to play the Spaniard in the Premier League as well.
The Tottenham boss insisted that he would not have played him in the Champions League had he not believed in the winger’s talent but feels it is important to choose the right moments to introduce him into the team
Conte said in a press conference: “I believe in Gil otherwise I don’t risk a player in the Champions League.
“I try to find the right moment for when he can be useful for the situation.
“I have seen good improvement and I’m sure about Gil’s future because we are talking about a player who sees football.”
The Italian believes Gil is a player in the mould of Germany and Manchester City star Bernardo Silva. But Conte insisted that he needs to further develop physically to take his game to the next level.
“If I have to compare Gil with someone, maybe I can see him like Bernardo Silva at City.
“For me in this moment physically he is not strong but we are talking about this type of player.”
Conte confirmed that Kulusevski and Richarlison are both still absent ahead of Saturday’s trip to the Vitality Stadium, but Cristian Romero and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg were both passed fit to start against Sporting
Is Bryan Gil the perfect understudy to Dejan Kulusevski?
One question has plagued Tottenham over the last four weeks: how do they function without Dejan Kulusevski?
Bryan Gil was a spare part at the start of this season. He had spent the second half of last season on loan at Valencia and the assumption was that he would be free to return this summer.
But in Gil’s three cameo appearances in the last few weeks, all of them in the Champions League, he has posed a question to which there is only one correct answer: is it finally time to give him his first Premier League start?
When Frankfurt came to Tottenham. With five minutes left, Conte brought on Gil for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. And he immediately looked hungry for the ball and committed to pushing them up the field. He should have made the goal that sealed the win: Gil won a header in defence, picked up the loose ball, drove forward down the right, lost the ball, won it back, drove towards goal, chopped inside Hrvoje Smolcic and won a penalty.
These two cameos set the stage for Wednesday night against Sporting. Gil got more time on the pitch — 19 minutes, coming on for Matt Doherty, allowing Moura to move to right wing-back. It was his best performance of the lot. He always showed for the ball, helped Spurs to sustain their attacks and troubled Sporting’s well-organised defence.
Gil’s scrappiness won the corner from which Rodrigo Bentancur headed in Spurs’ equaliser. He made a clever run to the byline, only for Emerson Royal to try an inexplicable no-look pass that shot straight out of play. And, after taking the ball off Bentancur’s toes, he set him up for a chance to win the game that he blazed over the bar.
Put these three cameos together and you have a clear picture of what Gil offers Spurs. He will never have the physical strength of Kulusevski or the all-round athleticism of Richarlison but he has a lot going for him, especially in a team that is crying out for a new creative mind.
Conte obviously knows this. He has talked up Gil — how he was one of the options, along with Moura and Ivan Perisic, who could slot into the front three if required. At a press conference earlier this month, Conte reflected on Gil’s performance in Frankfurt and said that the physical side of his game was the only thing that he still lacks.
“Gil is a really good prospect,” Conte said. “He is becoming stronger. He has only this one gap for the Premier League — the physicality. Otherwise, technically, he understands football in an important way. I am sure that we’re talking about a player that will be an important prospect for the future. Now he’s building also, he’s improving on the physical aspect and for us, that’s important.”
Certainly, the eye test suggests that Gil looks stronger and fitter than he was when he arrived. Gil was just a 60kg (9st 6lb) 20-year-old when he showed up at Spurs and he was immediately told to get stronger and fitter if he wanted to make it.
Leave a comment.