Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho has claimed that he would not swap Giovani Lo Celso for Bruno Fernandes if given the chance, with the Manchester United midfielder having reportedly been on the verge of signing for Spurs before 'The Special One' arrived.
It is said that Tottenham had opened talks with Sporting CP regarding Fernandes during last summer's transfer window, but ultimately ended up signing Lo Celso – originally on a loan deal – from Real Betis.
Under Mourinho's stewardship, Lo Celso has since become a permanent fixture for Spurs, having completed a £27 million ($34m) transfer.
In that time, Fernandes has gone on to shine at United, breathing new life into a side that had struggled for form and creativity and offering the club plenty of options going forward alongside fellow orchestrator Paul Pogba.
Lo Celso, meanwhile, has also impressed – although not to the extent of Fernandes.
“I don't know anything about that,” Mourinho told Sky Sports when asked about Spurs' reported talks with Sporting. “But if that is true, and Giovani Lo Celso was the player that came to Spurs [instead], then I would say I wouldn't change Lo Celso for any player.
“Not just for Bruno, but for any player.”
Mourinho went on to praise Lo Celso's attitude, forcing his way into Mourinho's plans due to his application in training. In addition, the Argentine has also been playing through injury as the Lilywhites chase Champions League qualification from the Premier League.
“I came to the club and he wasn't playing,” Mourinho added. “I think the only match he started was Red Star Belgrade away in the Champions League. Apart from that, he wasn't playing.
“When I arrived I went in other directions and he did exactly what I love a player to do: 'I'm going to show you'.
“No spoiled kid reactions, no crying, no moaning, no agents and family throwing messages to the press and on social media. It was just between him and me: 'I'm going to show you'. And he did show me, step-by-step.
“The way he was working every day, the way he was coming to matches, the way he was changing matches.
"I remember the match against Liverpool: he was on the bench, he came on for the last half-an-hour and he changed the game. The only thing that didn't happen was us changing the result because we were so unlucky, but he changed the game.
"When he had his first start: 'Goodbye, I give you no chance and this place is mine'. In this moment, what people can see from him is an injured player playing, or a player that during the week is not working like the others.
"He's working with lots of different conditions to try to play and to try to resist until the end of the season so what you see from Gio now is not the end product - he's a fantastic player for us."