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Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham are having to create their own players because, unlike Liverpool and Manchester City, they cannot sign the stars who will immediately take them to the next level.
Spurs have not signed a single player in the past two transfer windows, with January’s deadline approaching on Thursday, and their manager admits they are unable to operate in the same way as their rivals in the market.
“In the past couple of years, Liverpool have invested a lot of money,” Pochettino said in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC. “Due to a number of circumstances, we’ve tried to produce young players with great futures such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, [Kieran] Trippier or Harry Winks.
“We are creating players. But in this case, Liverpool need a defender, they get [Virgil] van Dijk. They need a goalkeeper, who’s the best? Alisson. It’s the same as Manchester City.
“In the end, it’s valid as Real Madrid and Barcelona do the same because they’re on a different level.
“At the moment, Tottenham haven’t reached that level, so when we can’t buy a washing machine, we get a dryer that can do the same job. Instead of a sofa, we get a chair where you can also sit. That’s the difference between Tottenham and the teams that are built to win.”
Pochettino has yet to win a trophy as a manager and has been coveted by wealthier clubs, notably Real Madrid and Manchester United. But he believes Tottenham are heading in the right direction and will win silverware in the future.
“It’s similar to the players,” he said. “Everyone believes that Tottenham haven’t reached that next level and, logically, the perception of those who analyse football see that maybe there’s potential to work in other clubs, similar to players who can join other clubs.
“The idea of Tottenham is to become a final product for managers and players who want to come and win trophies, and obviously to enjoy your job.
“We are making the first steps [to becoming a great club] because in the past few years the club is playing regularly in the Champions League, we are finishing in the top four. But we know it’s a tough task and we need time — time and consistency — and we’re at the start of that, a new era of the club.”
Tottenham, whose last piece of silverware came in 2008, have exited both domestic cup competitions in the past week, and Pochettino has been criticised for stating on Sunday that a trophy “only builds your ego” while Champions League qualification is the priority.
Expanding on the point, he told ESPN FC: “I’m not satisfied with the top four. But you’ve got to remember what [Jose] Mourinho recently said that finishing in the top four with Manchester United was just like winning a trophy.
“Right now, for different reasons, Tottenham can win because in football anything can happen — that’s what makes football beautiful. But realistically, we are still not a team built to win the Premier League or the Champions League.
“One day, we hope that we can do it, of course. But right now, realistically, we’re not there. Are we going to try to win? Of course, and if we do win, great. But that doesn’t mean that if we win, it’s because we’re built to win. No, it’s because we’ve done things to compete and to be at a higher lever, or closer.”
One of the major things Spurs have done to close the gap on their rivals is to build a new 62,000-seater stadium, which is due to open in March. Pochettino believes the move back from Wembley to Tottenham will be an important moment for the club.
“We’re suffering from having to leave our home, create one more and make Wembley feel like our home,” he said. “I’ve spoken to Jesus [Perez] about it — my right-hand man, my friend.
“We always say that one thing is to have a house and another is to create a home where you’re going to feel comfortable, feel free and enjoy, and for us it’s been tough leaving our ground and competing there. It’s been one of the things that has prevented our growth.
“Although we’ve managed to improve results and remained a competitive team, in terms of development, rather than helping us, it’s hindered us.
“But now we’ve got the opportunity to return to our ground soon, and I think it’s going to have an enormous impact on our players and also our supporters, who can start experiencing their own permanent home, and it’s going to be one of the best stadiums in England and the world. It’s an inspiration for everyone.”