Tottenham manager Pochettino believes Harry Kane loves the club
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Mauricio Pochettino says Harry Kane is showing his contentment at Tottenham every day and doesn’t need to win titles to prove his greatness – although that remains the target for the striker and the club.
Kane hit his 100th Spurs goal at Everton on Saturday and has struck another three times since, doubling his tally against the Toffees before netting twice in Wednesday’s 3-1 Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund.
The 24-year-old has won the Premier League’s golden boot in each of the last two seasons but, for all his personal success, he is yet to win any silverware with his club.
Pundit Phil Neville said this week that “if Spurs maintain just being a top-four team, that will not be good enough for somebody like Harry Kane. I think he needs to be challenging for Ballon d’Ors”.
But Pochettino said today: “Harry, his mentality is to stay here, not only in the Premier League but to stay in Tottenham. He shows every single day how he loves Tottenham. Only it’s about waiting and enjoying him.
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“For the big players [winning titles] depends on the team, depends on the possibility to play in different leagues, different countries. There’s many reasons.
“For me there’s no doubt Harry Kane is one the best strikers. In my opinion he doesn’t need titles to show he’s one of the best strikers.
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“All the players play to try to score, win and in the end to win titles, of course. That is everyone’s aim, but so far Harry Kane is showing he is one of the best strikers in the world.
“He is a very good example for everyone because he’s so focused on trying to improve himself. His own motivation is so high. We need players with that motivation.
“We’re working very hard, first of all to build a philosophy and try to win. The objective is always to win games, win titles. That is our ambition.”
Tottenham’s Champions League victory over Dortmund in midweek was particularly valuable because it was only the club’s second win at Wembley in 12 competitive outings.
Having started the season with a defeat against Chelsea and a draw against Burnley under the arch, Spurs’ form at the national stadium was becoming an increasing concern, given they will play all of their home matches there this season.
The Lilywhites return to north-west London tomorrow to host Swansea, and Pochettino said: “[Winning on Wednesday] is so important for us. It’s true we were talking a lot in our environment too about Wembley.
“Sometimes we say we’re happy and comfortable, but it’s important to feel that and show it. I think Dortmund was a very good example that the team starts to feel comfortable, not only saying it.
“That is the most important thing because the effect is completely different – to believe and really feel that Wembley can help us is so important.”
Summer signing Fernando Llorente is in line to face his former club on Saturday, having only just left Swansea to sign for Spurs.
The Spanish striker revealed this week that, ahead of a widely-expected move to Chelsea, a last-minute phone call from Pochettino convinced him to change direction and join Tottenham instead.
Pochettino said: “Like always, in the end the decision was from him. Only we explained our philosophy and our project for the future, what we expect and need for him.
“It was a very good conversation – a private conversation of course – but it was about that. We never talk about playing more or less, it was more about the project and having the facility to join us.
“He was so excited with our offer. He’s an experienced player – a World Cup winner - and he knows very well that then you need to deserve and show your quality to have the facility to play.
“He made his debut the other day in the Champions League against Dortmund. Could he play tomorrow? Why not? Maybe.”
Tottenham are in strong form after triumphing 3-0 at Everton and then 3-1 against the top team in the German league, but Pochettino is adamant his side are only just getting started and there is plenty more to come.
“I think we are far away in the way we want to play and the performance,” he said.
“I’m so happy because it’s so early and the performance is ok, but I think we need to improve and show more quality.
“We have a really very good squad, very good players. We were talking a little bit before training today.
“We’re a coaching staff that push them a lot but we need to feel from them too that it is never enough, that they are willing to work more, to try to give their best, and I think that mix will help the team to achieve all we want to achieve in the end.”
Tottenham are continuing to miss the injured Danny Rose, Erik Lamela and Victor Wanyama, and Pochettino remains unsure when they will be able to rejoin training.
Asked whether he is concerned about Rose, who has been absent with a knee problem since January, the manager said: “Of course I suffer because he’s your player, like Lamela and different players, and you always want them fit and healthy and ready to compete and be available.
“After a long-term injury, like him, I think it’s so difficult for him. All the players love to play football and be fit and be healthy.
“He’s been suffering a lot for eight or nine months now, from January, and it’s a very difficult situation.
“We try, all the staff and everyone, to help him to keep pushing and try to be motivated to be as soon as possible fit again, to help the team.”
Pochettino also admits Harry Winks is still feeling the after-effects of the ankle ligament injury he sustained back in April.
“It was very bad and he struggles a little bit still, in our opinion and my opinion,” said the Spurs boss. “He still needs more, to work hard.
“He still feels a little bit of pain in his ankle and you know always football is about confidence, trust and feeling 100 per cent. He still struggles a little bit.”
The good news for Pochettino, at least, is that Georges-Kevin Nkoudou is back in training after recovering from a foot injury.
Asked what the French winger needs to do to get more playing opportunities than last term, when he struggled to make an impact in his first season at the club, Pochettino replied: “Try to work hard, try to perform as well during every training session, be consistent. Today was his first training session with the group.
“Maybe it is too early [for him to play] tomorrow but maybe he will have the possibility on Tuesday to play a little bit, or from the start of the game (against Barnsley in the League Cup).
“He feels more confidence. I think always when you are young, when you come from a different country and culture, always you need time.
“He is now more settled, more relaxed and calm. He played a lot of minutes in pre-season and was unlucky he got an injury that put him out for a while.
“I think now he is motivated to try to show his quality and always that is welcome.”