Nuno Espirito Santo has admitted that new signing Cristian Romero is still struggling with injury problems since his move to Tottenham Hotspur.
Spurs signed up the 23-year-old Argentina international on a season-long loan from Atalanta with an option to sign him permanently for £42m, with a five-year deal from next summer already agreed with the player.
However, Romero arrived off the back of a knee injury sustained as he won the Copa America final on July 11 with his country, with damage to his medial collateral ligament in his knee.
He returned to training ahead of the season opener against Manchester City, coming on for the final minutes of that win from the bench.
Romero has since started both of Spurs’ Europa Conference League matches. He had some knee issues after the first game in Portugal against Pacos de Ferreira and missed the trip to Wolves.
Now Espirito Santo has admitted the centre-back had more issues after the second leg on Thursday night when asked whether Romero would bring leadership to the Tottenham backline.
“I think he is doing well. It was his second match since he joined us. He has had issues. Even on Thursday he finished the game with some problems, but he is a fantastic player,” he said.
“Where I disagree is that we are not building individual leaders. What we need is commitment from everyone and voices can come from all over the pitch. All over the pitch and he has to be like that. What should lead us is our will and our desire. Not shouting.”
Other clubs have been making big transfer moves up front this summer, with Chelsea re-signing Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United attempting to bring Cristiano Ronaldo back to the club.
Espirito Santo was asked whether keeping a world class striker in Harry Kane was as big a statement as any of those things happening at other clubs.
“Its not only about Harry. It’s about our squad. I truly believe that we have a talented squad that needs improvement, needs stability and that awareness that what’s outside cannot really matter,” he said.
“When we have been able to achieve all these things, which is not an easy task, we will fight for our best.”
Espirito Santo had earlier explained that he has had to build a shield around his squad to block out the noise from outside and he was pressed further about how he created it.
“By using football common sense. What happens outside you cannot control,” he said. “Common sense says your expectations cannot be moved based on what other people think. This is creating a shield.
“A shield that respects dialogue but what we think and what we say stays here – inside the club. It’s just common sense.”
On Friday Pep Guardiola showed his frustration at Spurs chairman Daniel Levy’s refusal to negotiate with Manchester City over Kane and when Espirito Santo was asked about it, he responded: “That’s exactly what the shield is for. It’s helpful. I don’t care, I’m very happy [to be under the shield].”
The Spurs boss also spoke about Bryan Gil’s early weeks at the club since the 20-year-old made the switch from Sevilla, via a silver medal at the Olympics with Spain.
“I think he is adapting well. He had a good game yesterday. He is very young, very young. In the previous game, the first leg in Pacos was not the best options that we took in terms of his position in the pitch,” said Espirito Santo.
“Yesterday he played in a different position he did well. He has to improve. One of the aspects that maybe you don’t realise so much is language cannot be a barrier.
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“He must improve his English and he is willing to. He is willing to and it is the best thing that we have is that he is smart, he wants to improve and he wants to be helpful so is attitude is fascinating as a young player but as a young player a lot of room to improve in terms of his game.”
The Spurs boss was impressed by the player’s desire to arrive immediately after the Olympics rather than taking a rest.
“Yes, that’s why I mention in terms of his attitude. Even in each training session his energy is amazing. It is what we expect from a young player and he gives it,” he said.
“I think it is our job to prepare all the players we have for the Premier League. All of them. Realising that many of them are used to it, many of them have just arrived and the Premier League is the toughest competition there is so it is our job to prepare all of them.”