Saturday 25 November 2017

Ranieri reveals he tried to sign Pochettino for Atletico

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters
Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri. Photo: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters

Nick Mashiter and Duncan Bech

Claudio Ranieri has revealed he tried to sign Mauricio Pochettino for Atletico Madrid and insisted he still admires the Tottenham boss.

Leicester manager Ranieri was keen on taking Argentina defender Pochettino to the Vicente Calderon Stadium when he was manager between 1999 and 2000. The pair meet for the second time in four days when the Foxes travel to Tottenham tonight.

Spurs boss Pochettino was at Atletico's La Liga rivals Espanyol when Ranieri moved in only for money issues to halt the switch.

"Yes I did (try to sign him) but not now!" the Leicester boss said. "It was probably when I was the manager at Atletico Madrid, I always liked him as a player.

"I was very, very close but there was a little problem with our money at Atletico Madrid, so it wasn't possible. He was a player I always admired."

Pochettino insists he had a lucky escape when Ranieri's attempt to sign him fell through.

"Claudio tried to sign me at Atletico. We spoke a little bit about that on the touchline on Sunday for two or three minutes before the start of the game," Pochettino said. "He said I was lucky because it was the year Atletico went down!"

The teams drew 2-2 in the FA Cup on Sunday and Spurs are fourth, four points behind second placed Leicester as they both chase a Champions League spot in the Premier League. Ranieri conceded Tottenham's rise could make Leicester's progress in the league more difficult next season.

"Not only Tottenham, Southampton, Crystal Palace - a lot of teams are fighting to build for the top four," he added."This is a good revolution in the Premier League, you don't just have the normal four. It doesn't make it easy, but we are confident in our policy, the owner wants to arrive at the top."

Irish Independent

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