It is not the first time that speculation surrounding a move to Barcelona has surrounded Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino, and he has most recently been forced to shun the questions over a move after the future of current Barcelona manager Luis Enrique was thrown into doubt following their 4-0 Champions League humbling at Paris Saint-Germain.
Despite Pochettino’s links to Barcelona’s cross-city rivals Espanyol, where he enjoyed an extensive playing career before a three-year stint in charge of the club, there has been little deterrent to speculation that the Argentine may be lined-up to replace Enrique at the Camp Nou end of the season, with a Champions League exit on the cards and the Blaugrana trailing Real Madrid in the La Liga title race.
However, when quizzed by Sky Sports about the possibility of a move, Pochettino brushed off the question and preferred to talk only about Spurs’ Thursday night Europa League clash at Gent, as Tottenham resume their European campaign following their early exit from the Champions League group stages.
“It’s important to be focused on the game,” he said.
“I can’t say anything about that. I’m at Tottenham. I am very happy, I have four more years on my contract, I’m enjoying an exciting project.
“It’s true it’s not an easy project, but I’m very happy here.”
With the weight of expectation at Barcelona, it is not inconceivable that Luis Enrique’s future should come into question, with the Catalans looking set to lose out on two trophies which would leave their upcoming Copa Del Rey final as their only shot at silverware. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not Barcelona would make an official approach for the Argentine in the event of an Enrique departure come the summer, and whether that would be enough to entice a manager who has become synonymous in Spain with their local rivals.
By his own admission back in January when previously asked about a potential move, Pochettino was ‘born with a bull on his arm’, a reference to his fierce affinity with Espanyol, and it would surely take an offer too good to turn down to entice the Argentine away from his long-term project at Tottenham, given that he has now laid roots down in London.
Elsewhere, amidst speculation surrounding interest in midfielder Dele Alli, former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp spoke of his amazement that Manchester United didn’t take a chance on the youngster three years ago, when at 18 he featured in MK Dons’ shock 4-0 win over Louis Van Gaal’s Red Devils in the League Cup.
In an interview on the Alan Brazil Breakfast show on talkSPORT, Redknapp affirmed his belief that Alli’s value may now even surpass that of United’s £89million world-record signing Paul Pogba, and that United as a club passed up the opportunity to sign a real gem as Spurs stumped up a bargain £5million to bring him to White Hart Lane.
“They are both top players”, Redknapp said. “Pogba is fantastic, but I’m a great fan of Dele Alli. He’s only 20 and he’s an amazing talent. He scores goals, he’s got absolutely everything.
“We kept reading about this kid at 17, scoring goals and doing everything at MK Dons, and when they played Man United a couple of years back in the cup they still didn’t take him after that game.
“At £5m in today’s market, it’s amazing. What a steal. He really is a talent.
“In the end, it took Tottenham to take the gamble. But it wasn’t a gamble, he’s a fantastic player.”
Spurs are certainly reaping the rewards of their investment now, and in hindsight it is remarkable that they had such little opposition in getting the deal done, having been clear frontrunners to sign the youngster for some time. United’s failure to chase up the player, despite then-manager Van Gaal’s reputation for featuring younger players, is a surprise as Redknapp points out.
However, the previous occasion United had made a significant investment on a League One player, when they paid around £6million to sign Nick Powell from Crewe Alexandra back in 2012, the move failed to bear fruit, which may have deterred the club’s hierarchy from taking another punt on an unproven youngster.
Finally, Gent midfielder Renato Neto, an old ally of Eric Dier from their days in the academy at Sporting Lisbon, is looking forward to re-uniting in battle with his own teammate in their Europa League clash on Thursday night.
Neto spent five years at Sporting before linking up with Belgian outfit Gent, whilst Dier spent two years in the senior set-up at the Portuguese club before being snapped up by Spurs.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Neto said: “I talked to him – I’m looking forward to seeing him back. He didn’t say anything about the game!
“He’s a good friend. He’s three years younger than me but we lived in the same academy. We used to see each other every day”.
It won’t be the friendliest of encounters on the pitch though, as both players will be fighting tooth and nail to ensure their side gain a positive result to boost their qualification prospects for the Round of 16.
“It’s one of my dreams to play in England”, Neto continued. “It’s a very good opportunity to show ourselves against an English team which is a very powerful team.
“We have to do our best like we did in the Champions League. It’s not going to be easy for us but I am sure we are ready mentally to do our best.”
Which of these old friends comes out on top in midfield may have some bearing on the way this first-leg in Belgium will shape-up, but with Spurs odds-on favourites, it is difficult to foresee any other conclusion bar an eventual Spurs progression, whether or not they find it tough tonight. Much will depend on which side Pochettino fields at the Ghelamco Arena, which will go some way towards revealing just how highly he values the competition, given that it provides an alternative route back into the Champions League.
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Diego Gaona.
£43m for Toby Alderweireld would be great business for Tottenham Hotspur
It seems that the Belgian defender is definitely on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.
It seems as though Toby Alderweireld is on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur.
It is being reported by Het Laatse Nieuws today that the Belgian’s contract talks with Spurs have been halted.
With the Belgian out of contract in the summer of 2019, Spurs will attempt to cash in on Alderweireld now.
A fee of £43 million has been mentioned for the player, who reportedly wanted a wage to match that of Virgil van Dijk at Liverpool.
Tottenham’s stance of not paying out big wages to their top players has often been criticised. But on this occasion, the Lilywhites are doing the right thing.
On his day and when fit, Alderweireld might be the best centre-back in the Premier League. However, it has been a long time since the Belgian had such a day.
Most of this season has seen Alderweireld on the treatment table. When he has played, it has always seemed a precursor to his next injury.
Given his age and contract situation, the injury record gives Alderweireld three strikes. At £43 million, Tottenham would be getting a fantastic deal for their defender.
The report from HLN claimed that Alderweireld wanted a wage in the region of €180,000-a-week (£160,000-a-week). Such a sum is vast for a player with his current issues.
The fact Spurs were reportedly willing to go as high as €120,000 (£105,000) per week shows that Daniel Levy tried to keep the Belgian, even doubling his current wage, but Alderweireld is on his way.
It will be a shame for Spurs but breaking the wage structure at the club for an injury prone defender would not have been a wise move.
Eventually, Tottenham might have to be more lenient with their wages, but that should be saved for the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli or Christian Eriksen.
Tottenham should take £43 million for Alderweireld and persevere with the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth.
Alderweireld’s next club will hope they can keep the Belgian fit long enough to reap the rewards of his potential signature.
Christian Eriksen happy at Tottenham, as national coach suggests he’s ready for move
Age Hareide believes Eriksen is ready to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Christian Eriksen has been in fine form for Tottenham Hotspur this season.
The Danish international has maintained his role as a fan favourite and first-team regular with sublime performances in the attacking midfield role.
Such form obviously has him attracting interest. In the past, there have been rumblings of a potential exit. Real Madrid and Barcelona are two teams that would obviously love someone of Eriksen’s immense talent.
One person who feels Eriksen is up for the move is his national team boss Age Hareide.
Speaking in the Danish press this week the Norwegian claimed Eriksen is better than Luka Modric was when he left for Madrid in 2012.
As quoted by TV2/FYN, Hareide was clear Eriksen has what it takes to play for both sides, but can see why he might stay at Spurs:
“He is ready to take one step more.
“I think he is a type that can adapt to anything. Give him a ball, then the ball will speak for him wherever he is. Christian is a type that just gets better from dealing with better football players.
“Looking at the players that play central to Real Madrid and Barcelona, none of those who are better than Christian.
“Luka Modric came from Tottenham to Real Madrid, and he was not as good as Christian.
“He has gone through a fantastic development during Mauricio Pochettino in Tottenham. It is a team that plays very nice football, and as we are also inspired by.
“Now, Tottenham gets a new stadium, so why should he not continue in London?”
Tottenham fans will immediately be concerned about such talk.
Eriksen is undoubtedly a key player and they know such a move could always be on the cards for the midfield maestro.
Whilst away on international duty players are often linked with moves away from clubs.
It is often down to slow news back home, but players also have time to reflect when away with their country.
If Hareide is talking up Eriksen this way in the press, Tottenham fans will hope he isn’t in the dressing room.
But in reality, Hareide should and will want Eriksen to remain at Spurs.
A move to Real or Barca brings inherent risks of bench-warming – something he will never do at Spurs.
Eriksen also spoke to TV2/FYN this week, ahead of Denmark’s friendly clashes with Panama and Chile and made it clear he is happy at Tottenham Hotspur.
He did, however, mention a desire for trophies:
“To be honest, I do not give a change of mind any thought. You have your dreams, but what’s realistic and going to happen, you see first when the offer is on the table.
“Right now, most are very happy to be in Tottenham, and I am too.
“I still think I can win something with Tottenham. Looking at where Tottenham is now compared to when I joined the club, people are now watching us as title candidates.”
Spurs’ biggest challenge in the next year or so is to keep this group of players, and their manager, in North London.
The longer they go without winning a trophy an eventuality which sees the likes of Dele Alli, Harry Kane and even Mauricio Pochettino leaving becomes increasingly likely.
Eriksen and co. currently have their eyes on the FA Cup, with a semi-final tie against Manchester United upcoming.
Winning that competition may need to be the start of a run of silverware. Otherwise, Hareide’s prediction regarding Eriksen’s suitability to Barca and Real may be put to the test.
Could Fernando Llorente be Tottenham Hotspur’s secret weapon in Rodrigo pursuit?
Could Tottenham use the Spaniard as a sweetener in deal for Valencia forward?
Reports today have suggested that Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and Brighton and Hove Albion are all keeping tabs on Valencia striker Rodrigo.
Calciomercato claim Rodrigo is wanted by all three clubs who are looking to bolster their attacking options.
Tottenham have long been trying to add the perfect back-up to Harry Kane to their ranks. Both Vincent Janssen and Fernando Llorente have not quite lived up to the billing.
Rodrigo, who had a spell on loan at Bolton Wanderers earlier in his career, could be the man to fill the role. The report discloses his massive €120 million (£105.4 million) release clause, but that offers in the region of €40 million (£35 million) are expected.
For Spurs the Spaniard would be a brilliant signing. Rodrigo has scored 16 goals in 35 games this season and would be a welcome addition. But at the price being mentioned, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is unlikely to sign off on any deal.
Rodrigo is nowhere near prolific enough for Spurs, a traditionally careful club financially, to make a move of that magnitude.
But could they have another bargaining chip to help sweeten the deal, and take a chunk off the asking price?
If Rodrigo was to arrive at Spurs they would have little use for his countryman Llorente. The 33-year-old would therefore be surplus to requirements, but would surely be of interest to Valencia.
The Spaniard has an excellent record of scoring in the Spanish top-flight. Whilst not likely to take a massive amount off of any potential transfer, Spurs could easily persuade Valencia to shave off £10 million should they accept Llorente as part of any Rodrigo deal.
If Tottenham are going to make a move for the talented Valencia striker this summer, having Llorente in the squad could prove a massive bargaining tool in negotiations.
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