LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino has admitted that Tottenham Hotspur will have to rely on unearthing more players like Dele Alli rather than spending huge fees on transfers if they are to compete with their Premier League rivals.
The club's annual wage bill is about half that of Arsenal, their north London rivals, and Manchester City, while Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea pay out even more. Those clubs have also spent much more on transfer fees.
Alli cost only £5 million (S$9 million) when he was signed from MK Dons, the League One club, two years ago but has since developed into a key figure for both club and country.
"If some club is paying double the salary (for players we want to sign), how can you convince them?" said Pochettino on Wednesday.
"That is the reality. It's true that you need younger players. Dele Alli chose to come here instead of another club, but we took a big risk with Dele. Now he is a massive player, one of the most important players in England.
"But who took the risk? Us."
Tottenham's success since Pochettino took charge in May 2014 means a number of his players have now become targets for bigger spending clubs with Kyle Walker, the right-back, linked with a potential move to Man City where he would almost certainly double his salary.
Harry Kane's 22 goals (before the Leicester game) were surpassed only by Everton's Romelu Lukaku (24) and Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez (23).
Dele Alli is the top-scoring midfielder in the Premier League with 17 goals, equal with Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Both City and Man United are looking at Danny Rose, while United also have a close interest in Eric Dier. The players would increase their wages significantly by moving.
"We have our (transfer) targets and we will see if we can achieve them," Pochettino said.
Tottenham finished second behind Chelsea in the league to qualify for Europe's elite competition but Pochettino says it is not enough to attract "top players".
"We talk about, 'If Tottenham are in the Champions League, it will be more attractive.' But then it's all about if you pay or not when we talk about top players," Pochettino said. "We cannot lie to you. That is the reality."
Pochettino also said Tottenham cannot afford to make any mistakes next season if they want to win the title.
Following a 2-0 victory over Man City on Oct 2, the North London side had to wait for another five games before they finally recorded their next league win.
"It is about being more competitive next season. In October and November we dropped a lot of points and it was difficult to catch Chelsea," the Argentinean said.
"So now it is time for us to look at it and find a way to fix the team, find better tools to improve in our methods and the way that we handle and manage the team."
THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS