By London correspondent Tony Hughes

The foundations for Mauricio Pochettino’s arrival at Tottenham were laid when Southampton were scouting Philippe Coutinho four years ago.

Les Reed, who is head of football development at Southampton, revealed that while keeping tabs on Liverpool’s brilliant playmaker at Espanyol, his club uncovered a bright emerging managerial talent.

Coutinho spent a six-month period on loan at Espanyol in the first half of 2012 when the club were managed by former Argentine defender Pochettino.

Less than a year later, there was bafflement in the English game when Pochettino replaced Nigel Adkins at St Mary’s Stadium in January 2013.

It proved to be a masterstroke as Pochettino kept the Saints in the top flight before equalling club’s best Premier League placing of eighth in his first full season. Tottenham then came calling in May 2014.

“We all put so much effort into tracking and profiling players all over Europe but never do it with coaches and managers,” Reed said, as quoted by the Evening Standard. “So we built up a data base of potential bosses.

“Nigel Adkins had done absolutely brilliantly for us and got us two promotions. But in the Premier League, we were struggling. You do all you can to keep your manager in place. But when in the Premier League, the profile of your squad changes.

“We were watching Philippe Coutinho, who was on loan from Inter Milan in early 2012. But the more we saw of Espanyol, the more we liked about the coach.

“They played from the back with the ball on the floor. We wanted that style and wanted to promote academy players. So we looked more deeply at Mauricio — and his track record of bringing through players like Coutinho was brilliant. He ticked all the boxes for us.”

Pochettino is building the best Tottenham team for over 30 years and, although their title challenge ended on Monday night with the 2-2 draw at Chelsea, the team’s combination of silk and steel has lifted them to second in the Premier League.

Reed, 63, the former Charlton manager and FA England coach, saw the same trademarks at Southampton.

“You will not find a manager who works as hard — who is out there on the training pitch all the time,” he told the Evening Standard. “At Southampton, we had been a bit scared of the Premier League and allowed teams to attack us.

“I knew Mauricio’s style would be the opposite — that we would press opponents. You can see now how well Tottenham do that. They move the ball so well and have so much confidence.”

In other Tottenham news, it has been reported that Bayern Munich have a “crush” on a 22-year-old Spurs ace.