Pochettino finally discusses title chase

LONDON • Few embody the season's trend of playing down the likelihood of a title challenge as much as Mauricio Pochettino, but the Tottenham manager has, at last, indicated that they are one of the teams leading the assault.

The Argentinian said that opponents will have to work much harder against Spurs to stand any chance of taking points.

"Teams are over-motivated to play against us because they know they need to run and be over-aggressive because we are strong," he said ahead of tomorrow's English Premier League clash against Everton at White Hart Lane.

Spurs have won their past three matches since a surprise home defeat by Newcastle, a run which has boosted morale, according to him.

"The most important thing is that we have smart players who are always looking to improve," he said. "But it's very important to keep our feet on the ground. This is the key in football."

Indeed, the team's form is so impressive that Tottenham might decide that they do not need to sign anyone in the transfer window.

Most commentators - and even Tony Pulis, the West Bromwich Albion manager - think it is likely that Saido Berahino will leave the Hawthorns to join Spurs, as the striker nearly did last summer.

However, Pochettino is concerned that the balance of his squad could be adversely affected by a new signing.

He said: "Only if we can help the team and improve the team, maybe we take some decisions, but if we need some players to bring in, they have to be the right profile."

Meanwhile, Tottenham are to step up their interest in Sandro Ramirez in an attempt to strengthen their forward line, but Barcelona are sticking to their demands for a buyback clause in the deal.

The 20-year-old Spaniard wants regular football and has been offered a 41/2-year contract to move to London. He has an £8.8 million (S$18.4 million) release clause and might be an easier transfer to conclude than Michy Batshuayi, the Marseille striker who has been watched by Tottenham.

Vincent Labrune, the French club's president, has ruled out selling the 22-year-old Belgium player until the end of the season.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2016, with the headline 'Pochettino finally discusses title chase'. Print Edition | Subscribe