By Matt Farr
Jan Vertonghen insists that Tottenham are just as strong as their title rivals this season despite being at a financial disadvantage.
White Hart Lane chief Mauricio Pochettino had earlier admitted that Tottenham were no match for their Premier League rivals Chelsea, Manchester United, City and Arsenal in terms of off-field business – such as transfers – and Vertonghen was in agreement.
Tottenham have spent more money in recent seasons, particularly last summer, but it still pales in comparison to the spending of City, United and Chelsea in particular.
However, the Belgium international was quick to add that while Tottenham could not compete financially, they are just as strong on the pitch.
He told the Telegraph: “I think money-wise you can’t compare, but on the pitch the team is as strong as theirs definitely.
“We have improved a lot since our last final. It’s only two years, but we have improved a lot, we’ve got stronger. The gaffer has had time to work with us and understand the way he wants us to play. We are a lot stronger than then and we have shown that in the last couple of years.
“We want to win both [the Europa League and FA Cup] and compete in the league as well, and I think our team is fit enough to cope with these things.”
Vertonghen’s claim that Tottenham are no worse-off than the likes of Chelsea in terms of the quality of the squad will no doubt delight fans, who are relishing the prospect of seeing their beloved club lift some silverware this season.
However, it’s a bold claim – Tottenham are ten points behind Chelsea in the Premier League and are yet to win any silverware, although they did beat Chelsea 2-0 at home in January.
First-team stars such as Harry Kane, Victor Wanyama, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen have all stepped up a gear this season, and have become an integral part of Pochettino’s plans.
Tottenham are currently without a domestic or European title since the 2007-08 season, when they lifted the League Cup under then-manager Juande Ramos.
Their Premier League title drought, meanwhile, extends as far back as the 1960-61 season. They are currently 10 points adrift of league leaders Chelsea.
Their European title ambitions, however, could be set on ice for another year if they fail to overturn their 1-0 first-leg deficit against KAA Gent on Thursday.
Pochettino’s side were beaten 1-0 in Belgium last week, and run the risk of being eliminated from the Europa League; having earlier failed to qualify from the Champions League group-stages.
In other Tottenham news, unloved by Pochettino, this 22-year-old can still be a Spurs sensation.