Tottenham: Battle to sign Spaniard; race joined for Dortmund winger; Pochettino talks Europa League
Despite having only lost one Premier League game so far this season, a concerning number of draws and stuttering European form all serve to indicate that Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham outfit are far from the finished article. The club have been proactive in agreeing new contracts with their better players, the likes of Harry Kane and Jan Vertonghen already having agreed new deals, and an improved deal for Toby Alderweireld supposedly next on the agenda.
But that isn’t all. Spurs boss Pochettino has also been plotting his January transfer business behind the scenes, but if reports from the Daily Express are to be believed, he and Tottenham will face stiff competition from elsewhere in trying to land one of their transfer targets: Real Madrid man and Spain international, Isco.
The former Málaga attacker has found himself in and out of Zinedine Zidane’s Real side this season, netting twice in 11 La Liga games this campaign. However, he did recently break into the team to start in their 1-1 draw with Barcelona in the El Clasico encounter at Camp Nou. Getting more regular game-time at the Bernabeu could put pain to Spurs’ hopes of landing their man in itself, but the report in the Express, quoting Spanish online outlet Diario Gol claims that London rivals Chelsea are now also set to join the race for his signature, with Manchester United also thought to be interested.
The report claims however that Chelsea are prepared to double the Spaniard’s wages to acquire his services, which may be enough to tip the scales in favour of Tottenham’s rivals with just 18 months left on the player’s current deal in the Spanish capital. Spurs will therefore have to make an approach promptly upon the opening of the transfer window in January if they are to have a realistic chance, given a bid from their rivals may not be too far away.
It isn’t the only chase that Spurs are set to be involved in come January either. At least not according to a report in the International Business Times, which claims that Pochettino and Tottenham are set to begin their own pursuit of Arsenal and Liverpool target Christian Pulisic.
A USA international who currently plies his trade with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, he has long been a player who Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has admired, having been in charge of him at Signal Iduna Park upon his arrival in Germany. Klopp is known to have made an approach for the midfielder during the summer, only to be rebuffed by his former employers.
Liverpool are still interested in trying to lure the American to Anfield and will plan for an approach when the transfer window opens in January. The report, quoting Calciomercato however, indicates that the Reds won’t be the only English club trying to acquire his services, claiming that Spurs are set to try to hijack any potential move with a January bid of their own, amidst rumoured interest from bitter rivals Arsenal also.
Pulisic has notched two goals and four assists in ten Bundesliga matches this season, and is known to have expressed his love for the Premier League, admitting to being a supporter of Manchester United. His current deal at Dortmund is set to run til 2019, with the German giants keen to tie him down to a new deal amidst interest from elsewhere. It is likely therefore to take some bid if the Bundesliga side are to be tempted to part company with the youngster.
Elsewhere, in the build-up to Wednesday’s closing Champions League group stage clash with CSKA Moscow at Wembley, Mauricio Pochettino has conceded according to a report in the London Evening Standard, that Spurs’ easiest road back to Europe’s premier club competition may be through winning the Europa League, given how difficult challenging for the top four is proving to be this season.
Tottenham have already been eliminated from the competition after back-to-back group stage defeats against Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco, but are guaranteed the consolation prize of third place and a Europa League Round of 32 berth if they avoid defeat against the Russians.
Asked whether the Europa League might offer a more comfortable path to the Champions League than finishing in the top four, Pochettino said: “It is true, it is a shorter way to get to the Champions League and one more possibility for us to do so.
“To win five or six matches will be difficult because you are competing with very good clubs in Europe. It is important for the club to be involved in the Europa League.
“We need to think of it as a good opportunity to win a trophy. I don’t know why we would think about it in any other way, or in a negative way. We need to be positive. We feel very disappointed that we can’t go any further in the Champions League but it is another opportunity in another competition to win a trophy. We need to make the effort to beat CSKA.
Pochettino was also keen to stress the importance of Spurs not lulling themselves into the mentality of believing only one competition should be the priority if the club are to achieve this season:
“Now is not the moment for us to say we are concentrating only on the Premier League, or the FA Cup, or the Europa League,” he said.
“We need to believe we can win every competition.”
Spurs have been subject to some Wembley woes this season though, having lost both their previous group fixtures at the national stadium, against group leaders Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen, making it six consecutive defeats there in all competitions.
The club are virtually certain to be playing their home Premier League fixtures at Wembley next season also, whilst the final stages of construction on their new 61,000-capacity arena are finalised, which is set to be ready in time for the start of the 2018/19 campaign.
Pochettino also insists that Spurs will continue to play at Wembley if they reach the Europa League on Wednesday, even though it is believed some of his squad would be more comfortable with the prospect of returning to the more familiar surroundings of White Hart Lane.
Though dispelling the rumours, Tottenham’s Belgian international defender Jan Vertonghen said: “We are going to play there every two weeks next year, so it’s good to create a habit and show what we are capable of at Wembley as well.
“We want to show everyone that Wembley is not bothering us. It’s a big pitch and a good pitch that should suit our style of play. We know it’s not a Wembley problem and we want to show that to the world.”
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