LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has finally admitted that Tottenham will not be able to challenge for the Premier League title unless he makes signings who can force Harry Kane, Dele Alli and other key players to raise their games.
The Spurs manager accepts that his club cannot compete financially with the biggest spenders, but is determined to strengthen a squad that finished runners-up to Chelsea last season.
Tottenham are the only Premier League side yet to add to their squad in the close season, while their England international right-back Kyle Walker has departed for rivals Manchester City.
Pochettino believes complacency can creep in if players are not challenged by new arrivals and made to feel their place is under threat.
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"How have Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and different clubs tried to improve their season?" the Argentinian said.
"Bringing players and trying to put more pressure on their star players, their key players - and for us, we need to do that too.
"We understand that Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld are really good players. They want to win, but need to feel the pressure a little bit to improve every season.
COMPLACENCY CAN SET IN
If there's no competition it's normal to drop your motivation, it's normal to drop everything that you do. And then it's difficult to win.
MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham manager, feels that signings are a must to freshen up his squad, with Spurs the only Premier League side yet to add to their team.
"If there's no competition it's normal to drop your motivation, it's normal to drop everything that you do. And then it's difficult to win."
Pochettino added that he and Daniel Levy, the chairman, were in agreement regarding transfers.
"We are finding the balance because now is the moment to maybe refresh the team with some new faces - and it's sure that will happen," he said.
"In three years, my experience with Daniel has always been trying to find a player to improve. The difference is, were they the right or wrong signing?"
Tottenham broke their transfer record last summer for Moussa Sissoko, who has not proved he is worth £30 million (S$53 million).
Fees have continued to rise, with significant outlay in this window by City (over £200 million), Manchester United (around £140 million) and Chelsea (around £120 million).
Everton's Ross Barkley is a prime target for Pochettino, though the demands regarding fee and wages would need to drop for Levy to sanction the move.
The midfielder recently rejected a contract at Goodison Park which would have taken his wages to around £100,000 a week, and paying £35 million for a player in the final year of his contract does not sit easily with the Tottenham hierarchy.
Pochettino also disclosed that Alvaro Morata, Chelsea's new £70 million striker, previously rejected a move to Tottenham for fear that he would be unable to shine in the shadows of Kane.
"Morata said to me, 'Why do you want me if you have Harry Kane? To be on the bench? Because it's Harry Kane, I cannot compete with Harry Kane'," Pochettino said.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS