Mauricio Pochettino: I’ve nothing personal against Spurs centre back Toby Alderweireld - and Daniel Levy deserves his money
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The Tottenham Hotspur manager discusses Toby Alderweireld’s situation at the Lilywhites and chairman Daniel Levy’s income, which was revealed this week
Mauricio Pochettino insists Toby Alderweireld’s personal circumstances – the Belgian’s contract situation and World Cup hopes – do not enter his mind when it comes to selection decisions.
Alderweireld is yet to agree a new deal with Spurs and, as things stand, the Lilywhites could lose him for £25million if his release clause is triggered in the summer of 2019 – a scenario that could prompt them to cash in for a bigger fee this year.
The 29-year-old has missed a large chunk of this season due to a torn hamstring, but he was available for last Sunday’s clash with Chelsea. So, when he was omitted from the matchday squad altogether, it suggested that Tottenham Hotspur may indeed be planning for life without him.
Alderweireld is sure to be frustrated if he continues to be overlooked and misses out on match practice ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
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But Pochettino is adamant that he is not overlooking the defender because he has declined to sign a new contract. And, equally, he has made it clear that he will not give the player preferential treatment because of his international ambitions this summer.
“When we decide, it’s not about personal feelings or emotions, it’s about providing the team with the best tools to win,” said the Spurs manager.
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“I don’t care about the personal situation with the club - their contract, if they are happy or not happy, I don’t know. If they show me they deserve to play, they are going to play. I cannot consider if they have a one-year contract, six months or 10 years.
“When [Moussa] Sissoko arrived, he was a record signing. But if he’s not the best, he doesn’t play.
“I remember when Dele Alli arrived from Milton Keynes, and Sonny (Heung-Min Son) came for £22million from Bayer Leverkusen. Who played? Dele Alli, the whole season. Then there were rumours that Sonny wasn’t happy.
“My decision is always about football - it’s not personal and not because of a contract problem. I don’t care about that.”
Asked directly whether there is a contract problem with Alderweireld, Pochettino replied: “From what I know, no. He has two years left.”
He continued: “I’m so sorry, because of course Toby was an important player for us in the last two seasons. Then he got the injury and players like Davinson [Sanchez] and [Jan] Vertonghen stepped up, and then you have to deserve to play.
“If we’re happy with the players who are playing, you need to wait. That doesn’t mean he cannot play again. Maybe he’s going to play again. But now he needs to keep pushing and try to show me he can play better than the others.
“For me, to be in the best shape [for the World Cup], you need to be training. Games? It depends. There are different opinions in football. If you play for 90 minutes, yes you work in the competition but it isn’t easy to improve.
“But I repeat, if my decisions are about helping players to play in the World Cup or achieve personal targets, my decision would be wrong for the team – for Tottenham.”
With Alderweireld’s future unclear due to Tottenham’s wage structure, which is overseen by chairman Daniel Levy, the club’s latest financial figures made for interesting reading.
Attention has focused in particular on the fact that Levy’s own income has jumped from £2.84m a year to more than £6m - a figure that includes a backdated pay rise and a bonus, which is decided by a renumeration committee.
Any Spurs players feeling underpaid and undervalued could perhaps be angered by that pay boost for the man at the top.
But, while Pochettino admits the “principle actors” must be taken care of, he believes Levy fully deserves his rewards and that all of the club’s employees should be content with their own lot.
“I’m happy when the people around me are happy,” he said. “I’m happy when the people around me are successful, and I’m happy if the people can earn more money than me too.
“It’s not a problem for the players or for us. I think if what he (Levy) achieved is true, well done and I think it’s deserved because he’s working so hard for the club and he’s been doing a fantastic job for 16, 17 years.
“I’m happy with my salary. I’m not comparing my salary with others. If I’m happy then I sign my contract, and then I cannot complain because no-one put a gun to my head.
“Ok we are doing a fantastic job, but when we signed a contract it was to deliver a fantastic job. If the club afterwards decides to reward our job, fantastic. But if they don’t then fantastic too because we signed a contract to deliver that work.”
Pochettino joked: “The advantage with him is that he puts up a mirror and negotiates with the mirror! It’s tough for him to negotiate then, yes?
“In this business the principle actors are the players. We have to push the big cake onto the players. After that there is the staff - there’s the manager and the coaching staff.
“But we need to understand that Tottenham Hotspur is a company that provides football like entertainment, and all the clubs today are companies. For me, in this type of business, we’re lucky because today we can have a good life. Maybe 30 or 40 years ago it was different.
“If one agent can earn a lot of money to be in the middle between two clubs, for one transaction, then people like our chairman or the people in that situation, for me it’s normal that [they get paid well] because they are delivering a great job for this company.
“I don’t know why people get so excited by this situation because for me it’s normal, and then it’s very good news for the company and for the club.
“Look at the facilities of the new stadium. I think Daniel is doing a fantastic job. It doesn’t surprise me what he earns, if that is true. We’re more than happy if it’s true.”
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