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A load of bull? Tottenham's Pochettino won't dismiss Barcelona link


Mauricio Pochettino has a long association with Barcelona's city rivals Espanyol

Mauricio Pochettino has a long association with Barcelona's city rivals Espanyol

Mauricio Pochettino has a long association with Barcelona's city rivals Espanyol

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has stepped back from suggestions he could never manage Barcelona because of his allegiances to their rivals Espanyol.

Pochettino spent eight years playing for Espanyol, Barca's city rivals, before also coaching the team between 2009 and 2012.

The Argentinian was quoted in January as saying he was "born with a bull in his arm", taken to mean he could never manage at the Nou Camp, but Pochettino was keen to correct that interpretation on Friday.

The Spurs boss insisted he had instead said he was born with a "ball in his arm", as a metaphor for him understanding how football works.

Barcelona's current manager Luis Enrique has announced he will leave at the end of the season and Pochettino has been linked with taking over this summer.

"I saw. It's a big list, 100 names," Pochettino said.

"It's like if I left there would be a list of 50 names to replace me. That's the business I know very well. I am born, not with the bull but a ball in my arms, I understand very well the business."

Asked to explain his reference to "the bull", Pochettino said: "Only I try to explain I know very well the business of football.

"When I was born it was true my mum and my dad put the ball, not the bull, but a football in my arms.

"It's a metaphorical example to say I understand that business, that my name will be on a list. I think you cannot explain any more."

Pochettino certainly did not rule out a move to Barcelona but also insisted he was happy at Tottenham, with whom he signed a five-year contract last year.

"I understand I am at one of the biggest clubs in Europe, Tottenham is one of those," Pochettino said.

"We are in a position where you can see we play good football, an exciting team with very good players, but it's normal we call the attention of the rest of the clubs, of football people around the world.

"We are one of the exciting teams to watch. I don't think about being flattered. We are part of that business and our name appears on the list."

Before facing Manchester City and Pep Guardiola earlier this season, Pochettino spoke passionately about the hostility between Barcelona and Espanyol.

Espanyol is a club considered traditionally Spanish in its roots while Barcelona has always been associated with a strong Catalan identity.

"Barcelona looks bigger than Espanyol but in the end, Espanyol was the real Catalans, the foundation and basis of the club," Pochettino said in September.

"That creates a bit of a problem between us. Always it was special to beat Barcelona because it is my sporting enemy."

Pochettino must turn his attention to Everton on Sunday as Tottenham look to reduce a 10-point gap behind Premier League leaders Chelsea.

They have a slight concern over the fitness of Toby Alderweireld, who came off with a groin strain in last weekend's win over Stoke, but Jan Vertonghen and Harry Kane are expected to be passed fit.

Kane sustained a knock to his knee against the Potters while Vertonghen was substituted as a precaution, but neither are likely to miss out against Everton.

Spurs have won their last 10 matches in a row at White Hart Lane, in what is set to be their final season at the ground while their new stadium is completed next door.

"I think we feel a very special moment every time that we play at White Hart Lane, the energy is special," Pochettino said.

"The fans are unbelievable. Every time we play there, we feel a special moment. That is one of the keys of our good performances and results."

PA Media