Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Mauricio Pochettino wants Tottenham players to justify Ronaldinho's Uefa Champions League prediction

But manager also realistic about current situation as he pleads with club for funds in order to contend for title in future

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino wants the Premier League club to invest in the future. Jason Cairnduff / Reuters
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino wants the Premier League club to invest in the future. Jason Cairnduff / Reuters

Mauricio Pochettino has challenged Tottenham Hotspur to find the funds to make them contenders to win the Uefa Champions League next season.

But he encouraged his players to justify his former teammate Ronaldinho’s prediction that Spurs can upset the odds and claim the continent’s most prestigious prize this year.

Son Heung-min gave Tottenham a 1-0 first-leg lead but Spurs were the only club in the Premier League not to buy a player last summer and have a net spend of just £29 million (Dh139m) in Pochettino’s five-year reign.

And the Argentine feels they have to spend in the future, saying: “After this season, a chapter is going to be closed and we are going to start another chapter and we need to translate to our fans what we need to do.

"With our new stadium, we need to be contenders to fight for the Champions League and the Premier League because we need the tools to be there. It is going to be tough to find a way to be on the same level [as Real Madrid and Barcelona].”

Pochettino played with Ronaldinho for Paris Saint-Germain and, while Spurs have not reached the last four of the European Cup since 1962, the Brazilian has tipped his old friend’s side to go all the way.

“Wow,” Pochettino said. “He knows a lot about football and I respect him. He was a great teammate when we played together… why not? In football, all can happen, like in life, you must believe and have trust in yourself and your ability and quality.”

Tottenham captain Hugo Lloris made a first-leg penalty save from Sergio Aguero and accepted it will not be easy to hold on their lead.

“We know we will have to suffer,” the World Cup winner said. “We are going to have a lot of effort to make and we are going to have to use our brains as well but it doesn’t mean we are not going to have run as well. We have to finish the game with the feeling we have given everything.

“Everything can turn very quickly. It is important to come here with ambition, to stick with our basics and if we come here with the mentality to score goals it will make it harder for Man City.”

Dele Alli, who has a fractured hand, will undergo a fitness test but Harry Kane is out. “It is very difficult to replace a player like Harry Kane,” Lloris added.

“The good thing is everyone is ready to help the team.”

Updated: April 16, 2019 08:55 PM

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