Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has backed World Cup winner Hugo Lloris to transform his team’s mentality and help them to silverware.
Goalkeeper Lloris lifted the World Cup as the France captain this summer and Pochettino believes his team will be boosted by the experiences also gained by his strong contingent of Belgian and English semi-finalists including Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier, Eric Dier, Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Mousa Dembele.
The Argentine joked: ‘It’s difficult to manage Hugo, eh? You cannot talk to him in the same way as before. Now he says, “I am world champion!” Nah, it’s unbelievable because he’s so humble.
‘We have the Golden Boot, too, in Harry Kane, who is so disappointed because he says to me I should have scored more goals.
‘Now we have players who competed at a high level in the World Cup and now we have the captain who is the world champion, the one who lifted the trophy.
‘That’s a fantastic experience for him to translate to our team. We are going to be better. No doubt.’
Tottenham, who failed to sign any players during the transfer window, begin their campaign at Newcastle at lunchtime today. Although his World Cup stars have had extended holidays and very short pre- seasons, Pochettino insists that they are fit and raring to go.
Kane saw the arrival of his second child this week but had been back in training the week before to hone his fitness. Pochettino, however, may not rush the returns of Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld, who were expected to leave for most of the summer.
‘Hugo is ready to play,’ Pochettino said. ‘Of course, all are in different places mentally. There’s a lot of rumours and it’s normal that if you appear on TV and in the media it’s impossible not to be affected. The gaffer said that or not? The gaffer thinks this or not?
‘Players like Toby or Danny . . . they called me all the way through the World Cup and today we were talking. You say that situation is maybe different from that of Hugo. We need to help the player to be in a good shape and then help the team. But I’m not worried whether it’s this week or next week or maybe the week after.’
Tottenham target Jack Grealish, the Aston Villa midfielder, is ready to sign a new contract with the Championship club, according to manager Steve Bruce. Grealish, 22, missed out on a move to Spurs when Villa’s new owners rejected a £25million offer, insisting he was not for sale.
Talks over an improved salary to reflect Grealish’s status are now expected, potentially doubling his current £20,000-per-week earnings. Terms could include a release clause for next summer should Villa fail to gain promotion.
Bruce said: ‘I would not be surprised if Jack signed a new contract in the next week. We’ve got to look after him.’