Mauricio Pochettino has admitted he is happy in north London with Tottenham, and has no plans to leave a club where he feels his work is truly appreciated – despite recent links with Manchester United.
The Argentinian tops the list of potential candidates to replace José Mourinho in the Old Trafford dugout next season, should United fail to secure a Champions League place, and it was reported earlier this week that the Red Devils were ready to pay Spurs £40m in compensation to get their man.
But ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, Pochettino was asked about his future – with an answer that’ll please Spurs fans.
“I feel happy here in Tottenham because the club values and recognises the job we have done,” he told The Sun. “So I don’t need to listen to the talk that is going around because the most important thing is how welcome you are made to feel in your home.”
The 46-year-old revealed that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has been preoccupied with finalising the team’s move to their new £800m stadium – so much so that the two of them have barely spoken of late.
“In the last two weeks I have had one message from him,” he said. “He is so busy with the stadium I think he must be working there…I joked with him ‘Daniel, am I not your priority anymore?’, and he replied, ‘yesterday I spent two hours trying to sort out your Christmas present’.
“He said he is going to surprise me. Maybe he is preparing the stadium!”
But Pochettino remains realistic about the financial hurdles he faces in achieving his title-winning dreams with Tottenham.
“Just to be in the top four is more than success for us,” he said. “Of course the hope is to one day win a title like the Premier League or the Champions League…But the first step is to try to be consistently in the top four and that is not easy because Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, City and United are on a different level of investment.
“We are so far from those big sides in finances. When you compare the budgets of the Premier League clubs, we are in the same position as Everton, West Ham, Southampton, Leicester and Fulham.
“People were so pessimistic about Tottenham after what happened in the summer when there were no signings and the stadium was delayed. But we have eight more points than we had at the same stage of last season and we have a decisive Champions League game coming up against Barcelona.
“Many people didn’t believe we’d be here but so far, so good.”
Full-back Kieran Trippier will reportedly miss Tuesday’s must-win game at the Nou Camp because of a groin problem – and Pochettino was quick to place responsibility for this with the national team, claiming Trippier’s selection for England’s meaningless World Cup playoff last summer had exacerbated the defender’s injury.
“When a player asks to come off in a World Cup semi-final even though all the substitutes have been used it because he has a problem,” he said. “For me, it is impossible in those circumstances to play again three days later and it was a bit weird that Kieran was then picked for that third-place game.
“That’s where the problems started for Kieran but I haven’t spoken to England about it because I have a clear and honest relationship with their manager.”
Harry Kane is another cause for concern. Pochettino is anxious to give his prize striker a rest, but Spurs’ crowded winter fixture list is proving problematic. The England captain already has 25 games for club and country under his belt this season and has made the starting 11 for every one of his club’s Premier League and Champions League games.
“At the moment Harry still has plenty of energy and that is why he plays. But every day we are assessing the player. Harry is one of the best players in Europe and there is no point to rest him if he is OK to play.
“He is going so well for us this season and I hope it continues. But we are thinking that in some games soon we will need to rest him.”