Mourinho opens up on Ndombele and Aurier future, striker hunt and Lo Celso and Tanganga injuries


Jose Mourinho has spoken further about Tottenham’s transfer hunt for a new striker and also about the future of Tanguy Ndombele and Serge Aurier.

Spurs are looking to sign a new striker to bolster Mourinho‘s options up front, particularly with the potential pile-up of fixtures with the Premier League, Europa League and Carabao Cup games coming with so little time between them, on occasions just one day.

The issue Tottenham have had in the past has been convincing strikers to join the club with the knowledge that Harry Kane is likely to start almost every match.

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Various players or their agents have cited the England captain’s presence as a determining factor in not making the move to north London.

However, Mourinho believes that is not an issue under his management of the club.

“The point is not me convincing the striker, it’s the striker convincing me and if the striker is afraid to come to Tottenham and the striker is afraid of competition then I don’t want the striker,” he said.

“So it’s not for me to convince him, it’s for him to convince me. If he says I don’t want to go because I don’t want to be in a squad where we have Harry Kane and Sonny, Lamela, Lucas, I don’t want to go to that squad then good-bye.”

Mourinho was asked what kind of striker the club would go for, be it a young player, a veteran or a ‘top profile’ forward.

“Which top profile? The £120m profile?,” said Mourinho.

“I cannot speak about ages because that is not the point. It’s about opportunity. We are a balanced club, we are a club with certain principles, we are a club that one year ago or so ended building the best stadium in the world.

“We are a different club. The point here now is to get a more balanced squad, a squad with more options and I was already saying before I don’t like the back-up situation.

“I just told you that I also don’t like the profile of player that doesn’t want to come to us. You look to all the other top clubs and they have many options as centre-forwards and that question doesn’t appear.

“Every club is a club and I don’t want their managers to misinterpret my words but for example Werner went to Chelsea and Chelsea had Abraham and Giroud. Manchester City has Aguero and Jesus. Liverpool has Firmino, Origi, Salah can play there too, Mane.

“It looks like it’s only with us where we don’t have the right to have a more balanced squad with more options. If you change the direction from the striker position to midfield – we have Winks, Sissoko, Ndombele and Hojbjerg didnt ask me ‘Am I back-up or I am I going there to play?’

“It’s up to you, mate. Players decide who plays, it’s not me. It’s players who decide who plays. So a striker to come here, I know that we have the best striker in this country, there is no doubts about it, but the striker that comes here has to come with his own ambitions.

“If he doesn’t have ambitions, he doesn’t belong to us.”

One player Mourinho has high hopes for this season, if he can find his consistency, is Tanguy Ndombele.

The 23-year-old club record was linked with an exit from Spurs after struggling in his first campaign with injuries, consistency and subsequently a lack of starts.

However, his head coach has been delighted with what he’s seen since the Frenchman returned from injury this pre-season.

“He’s working very hard. I have to be honest and say he is working better than ever,” said Mourinho.

“Of course he finished the season injured, with a very important injury.

“He came back after holidays and of course he was still injured, in spite of doing some work on the recovery process.

“He didn’t start the pre-season with us. When you saw him 45 minutes against Watford it was easy to understand and say he’s not in the best condition, but he trained only two days before that match.

“This week he did not go to the national team and trained every day. Is his condition better today than it was last week? Yes his condition is better and he is working very, very hard.

“So the point now is – can he keep that commitment and desire? If he does it, he has incredible potential.”

Serge Aurier has been linked with a move to AC Milan this summer
Serge Aurier has been linked with a move to AC Milan this summer

One of Ndombele’s close friends at Spurs is Serge Aurier and the Ivorian has also been the subject of speculation about his future.

The right-back asked to leave the club last summer and with Matt Doherty joining from Wolves has been the subject of interest from AC Milan and Bayer Leverkusen, but Mourinho said he would not choose to sell him.

“When we bought Matt it was not to sell Serge. When we got Matt it was to strengthen the squad and to have more options,” said the Tottenham boss.

“It was not to be in a very difficult situation like last season where Serge was playing all the time, and even in the worst possible circumstances when he had that very sad situation in his family. Even then he had to play and made that incredible effort to play.

“So for me it is not to buy one to sell another one, but of course the market is open and the players have the right to express themselves and to try to be happy and if one day Serge comes to us and a situation that he would prefer I think we would speak with him.

“Mr Levy would speak with him, but the reason why we got Doherty was to improve the squad and not to sell Serge. If you ask me directly journalist to coach do you want to sell? No I don’t.”

When asked whether he expected the Ivory Coast captain to come to his office and ask to leave, Mourinho shook his head.

“I don’t, I don’t,” he said. “I had a meeting with the players a couple of days ago when everyone arrived and I did not speak specifically to Serge. I spoke to everybody.

“I told them that I want a squad, I want a better squad than last season and every player belongs to the squad. My desire for them as a coach is for them to stay.

“At the same time I told them what is obvious, top clubs, big clubs, clubs with ambitions, have lots of good players. So if you are this kind of personality that you cannot cope with this challenge with this level of internal competition and then you are not happy then it is better to go.

“In Serge’s case he was at PSG and they have an incredible squad and he was there at the same time as some other fantastic players for his position and he coped with it without any problems.

“So I think Serge is the kind of personality he does not turn his back to a challenge and to have in the same squad and position a player of Doherty’s quality.

“I think for Serge it will be a challenge to enjoy and for me as a coach would be a privileged situation to have two strong right-backs.”

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Two players who have been absent from the pitch throughout pre-season have been Giovani Lo Celso and Japhet Tanganga.

The Argentine has a hamstring injury and the young defender has picked up a thigh injury during pre-season.

Mourinho went into more details with football.london about the situation with both players.

Japhet is missing [for Sunday’s game against Everton]. He had an important injury in pre-season and he will still be away for a few more weeks,” explained the Spurs boss.

“It’s quite an important injury in a tendon. It takes time. Young guy, no risk. We have Aurier, Doherty for the right-back position. We have the centre backs Sanchez, Toby, Dier.

“So we don’t need to force anything in this moment, we are going to need him later. So this one is completely out. Apart from that, we will see tomorrow. Basically with ups and downs during pre-season, I don’t think we have any more problems.”

On Lo Celso he added: “Let’s see tomorrow. He didn’t play, you are right, he didn’t play one single minute.

“He was one of the players that had to deal with some issues from pre-season. His condition is not the best, but Sunday, Thursday, Sunday, we need him.

“So I want to wait until tomorrow to see if he’s for Sunday, if he’s for Thursday. Gio is there, he can eventually play.”





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