Wednesday 20 November 2019

Pochettino rejects Xavi claims on Alli

Tottenham ace Dele Alli Photo: Reuters / Hannah McKay
Tottenham ace Dele Alli Photo: Reuters / Hannah McKay

Julian Bennetts

Mauricio Pochettino has delivered a withering put-down to Xavi after his claim that Manchester City want to sign Dele Alli, saying he knows not to trust the Barcelona legend after he dived to win a decisive penalty against the Tottenham manager's former team, Espanyol.

The Spaniard said yesterday that he speaks regularly to City manager Pep Guardiola and believes his former team-mate and coach is planning a world-record bid for Alli. That has been rejected by Tottenham manager Pochettino, who instead claimed the comments were motivated by the desire to unsettle him due to the city rivalry between Barcelona and Espanyol.

And the 45-year-old says he has not trusted Xavi since he collapsed under a challenge from Raul Baena to win a penalty that Zlatan Ibrahimovic converted to give Barcelona a 1-0 victory over Espanyol at the Nou Camp in December 2009. Pochettino was the Espanyol manager then and he claimed to have joked about the decision with Thierry Henry - who was also playing - on Monday, shortly before Xavi's claims about Alli came to light.

"He was a Barcelona player, he's my enemy," said Pochettino of Xavi ahead of his side's trip to Crystal Palace tonight. "He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he's Barcelona - player, fans, you know.

"Yesterday there was Thierry (Henry) here and we remembered the game that he (Xavi) cheated the referee. He fell down, it wasn't a penalty, but Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won. Xavi fell down and said 'penalty', they gave a penalty. After, in the video, it was very funny because no one touched him. It goes from lie to lie to lie.

"He is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and (Vincent) Kompany."

Pochettino was laughing as he recalled Xavi's theatrics but he then made a serious point - that Spurs will not sell a single player they do not want to this summer.

Alli is one of a number of Spurs players linked with a move. Kyle Walker had talks with Pochettino last week while Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Christian Eriksen are also coveted by other clubs. "The players that we want to keep, we will keep," said Pochettino. "Because he (chairman Daniel Levy) said to me, 'We don't need money'."

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