Mauricio Pochettino: Serge Aurier knows what we expect from him and I’m confident he can succeed at Tottenham Hotspur
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Spurs boss believes the former Paris Saint-Germain full-back deserves an opportunity to show he has learned from his previous mistakes
Mauricio Pochettino says he has spoken to Serge Aurier to stress the behaviour he expects from his players, but he insists he trusts his new signing and is handing him a clean slate.
The 24-year-old right-back courted controversy at Paris Saint-Germain, having aimed homophobic jibes at manager Laurent Blanc and his team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic and being convicted of assaulting a police officer – a legal issue that complicated his transfer to Tottenham.
There has therefore been some surprise that Pochettino – who places great importance on the dressing-room atmosphere – has brought in a player with a history of causing disruption. However, the Spurs boss also believes in second chances.
“I spoke with him of course, about different things,” said Pochettino. “But I’m a person that likes to move on. As I’ve always said, I’m the first to make mistakes in my life, and it’s important that people give the opportunity to show that you learn and improve in all decisions in your life.
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“We had a long chat. He knows very well how we are, what we expect from him, and for us it’s so important - not only him but every player - how they behave here, in the squad.
“We need to keep the dynamic we have created. I trust him, I am confident that he can succeed here and help the team to achieve the things we want.
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“When you know and you meet some people, always you start to assess them from the day that you meet them, and for me we start from [here].
“For me, I think it’s exciting to have him in the squad and, for him, I think it’s a new chapter in his life. It’s sure it’s a big opportunity for him to try to show all that he has inside, and the good player that he is.
“Like him, like all, we need to learn and improve from our past, and I think today is a very good opportunity for him to join us and try to show that ok, it was a mistake from his side, but always people deserve another opportunity.”
Aurier is a £23million replacement for Kyle Walker and Pochetino continued: “Of course Serge is a player with a lot of experience in Europe, in the last seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, playing in the Champions League.
“He’ll be very good competition for Kieran Trippier, to share that position and try to improve everyone. It’s a position that we needed to improve and we’re happy.
“He’s still young, 24, but with a lot of experience. He’s so powerful. I think you know well his characteristics.
“This afternoon he will arrive here and start to adapt himself to a new squad, new club and new games - because the Premier League is completely different to Ligue 1.”
While Pochettino is excited about Aurier’s addition to the squad, it seems the Ivory Coast international might have to wait for his first start, given he is yet to train with his new team-mates and Kieran Trippier should be available for Saturday’s trip to Everton, despite dropping out of the latest England squad due to injury.
“We need to assess him (Aurier) because he will arrive this afternoon, in a few hours,” said Pochettino. “He played on Tuesday and travelled today to France. Now he’s travelled from France to London. We need to see how he is.
“But you can imagine for him it will be very tough to play. For this afternoon, tomorrow to prepare for the game, it will be tough for him. Maybe he will be in contention, we’ll see.
“Kieran is good. He has trained all week and I think he will be available for Saturday.”
Aurier joined Spurs on deadline day, swiftly followed by Fernando Llorente, who rejected the chance to join Chelsea and chose Tottenham instead.
Again, eyebrows were raised. The Lilywhites generally target young players or those in their early to mid-20s who have room to grow, so the £12million move for Llorente marked a move away from their usual strategy.
However, Pochettino feels the striker’s experience is worth its weight in gold.
“Llorente is first of all a great professional,” he said. “He’s a world champion – he won the World Cup with Spain – and that is the mentality that can translate to us, with the experience of winning big things.
“You know very well that he scored 15 goals for Swansea last season. I think his characteristics can fit very well with the team.
“It’s not easy to have the facility to sign players like Llorente. It was an amazing chance for us and he decided to sign for us.
“I think it’s fantastic because he will bring very good experience and then that culture, to compete – because competing is different to playing, and winning is different to trying to win. He can translate that feeling that is so important for our squad.”
Llorente’s arrival has pushed Vincent Janssen down the pecking order at Tottenham and the Dutch forward was omitted from Spurs’ Champions League squad this week, along with the injured Erik Lamela.
Asked whether Janssen is still in his plans, Pochettino said: “Yes of course. The next question is why he is not in Champions League squad. That is about numbers.
“We only have 17 places [for foreign players]. We have 19, so him and Lamela we decided [to leave out]. But in January we check again to see if we change the names in the squad. But, yes, he has a future, like other players here.”
Lamela continues to recover from long-term hip injuries that have sidelined him since last October, but Pochettino said: “Erik, we are happy with his rehab. We expect [him in] early October to join the team and to start the possibility of training with the team. Then we will decide and assess every day when he will be available.
“We are happy. I want to try to translate to our fans that Erik is in a very good mood and is happy. He is doing all the things to try to be fit as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, Pochettino has reiterated that Toby Alderweireld is content at Spurs, despite reports that he is unhappy with his contract.
“He was talking with me in my office this morning and he’s so happy,” said Pochettino. “He wants to make it clear he is fully committed with the club.
“He’s happy with his contract - two years plus one. It’s not an issue. I recognise some rumours in the last few days. But he is so relaxed, so calm. His idea is to try to play here. He’s happy here, there’s no reason to move.”
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