Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino (HENRY NICHOLLS)
Mauricio Pochettino is ready to “risk” his reputation at troubled Chelsea, but the new Blues boss won’t be bolstered by a reunion with Harry Kane.
Kane has been linked with a move away from Pochettino’s former club Tottenham and a switch to Stamford Bridge could have suited both parties.
Pochettino needs a top-class striker to improve on the club’s dismal goal-scoring record last season and England captain Kane fits the bill perfectly.
Tottenham’s record goalscorer, who rose to prominence under Pochettino, is keen to leave the north Londoners after failing in his bid to engineer a transfer to Manchester City two years ago.
Linked with Bayern Munich and Manchester United, Kane’s Tottenham contract expires next year, increasing the urgency to resolve his future.
However, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy might see the prospect of selling Kane to a London club, and one managed by the man he sacked in 2019, as a bridge too far.
Speaking at his first Chelsea press conference on Friday, Pochettino reacted with mock horror before breaking into a grin when he was asked if he would try to sign Kane.
“Oh my God! No, I don’t like to talk about players in another club, but you are talking about one of the greatest, one of the best strikers in the world,” he said.
“It’s not fair to talk. Fans are not stupid, they are so clever and they know my relationship with him was always amazing.
“I saw him when he was young, grow up and achieve all he was achieving and of course we have a great relationship.
“At the moment we are thinking in different ways. We are not thinking about that (Kane).”
If a blockbuster move for Kane is off the agenda, Pochettino has to look elsewhere to solve Chelsea’s striker crisis.
The Blues, who have sold German forward Kai Havertz to Arsenal, mustered just 38 goals in 38 Premier League games as they finished in 12th place.
“We have to time to work. I think for sure we are going to add players that can score,” Pochettino said.
– ‘I love the risk’ –
Pochettino was linked with a return to Tottenham before accepting Chelsea’s offer.
The 51-year-old spent five years at Tottenham, leading the club to their first Champions League final appearance just months before his surprise dismissal.
Asked if Tottenham had made an approach before appointing Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou as their manager, the Argentine said: “We have a very good relationship with Daniel and with all the Tottenham people.
“I don’t want to say anything. We need to look forwards. What am I going to say – yes, no or maybe. And what is it going to change? Nothing.
“I feel very proud about the past. You never know in football what can happen in the future.”
Pochettino remains widely admired among his peers, regardless of the rocky end to his spell at Tottenham and subsequent sacking by Paris Saint-Germain last year.
He was axed by PSG despite winning the French title, with a disappointing Champions League campaign proving his downfall.
He could have picked an easier landing spot than a Chelsea side reeling from their worst season since 1996.
Faced with a bloated squad, demanding owners who sacked Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter last term, and the potential for fan unrest given his association with Tottenham, Pochettino insists he made the right move.
“I love the risk, the expectations. For me it’s a challenge,” he said.
“I want to feel the adrenaline again, to be there and fighting for big things. This football club, because of the history, is about winning big trophies. I want to prove myself, that I can deal with that.”
With his reputation on the line, Pochettino means business and his players should take note.
“I don’t want to make excuses to the players to say first of all we need time to rebuild,” he said.
“No excuses. The competition doesn’t wait for anyone.”