By Richard Parks
Mauricio Pochettino has claimed that Son Heung-Min has been axed from the Tottenham team for their Champions League showdown against Juventus because of Erik Lamela’s greater experience of playing against Italian teams.
The Spurs manager has sprung a shock in his starting XI selection for the last-16 first leg clash in Turin by axing in-form Son.
The South Korean, 24, has been a regular starter for Tottenham this season, including in their impressive recent performances against Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United.
But Son is one of two omissions from the side that beat Arsenal 1-0 on Saturday, with Kieran Trippier also making way as Serge Aurier and Lamela return to the starting XI.
Pochettino explained that former Roma star Lamela is the ideal man to play against the Serie A champions, who were runners-up in last season’s Champions League.
“Lamela knows what it means to play here against Juventus and we believe this experience will help the team,” said Pochettino before kick-off, as quoted by the official Tottenham Twitter account.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 13, 2018
Son has scored 11 goals and supplied eight assists from 36 Tottenham matches this season, including three goals from just five Champions League fixtures.
By contrast, fellow attacking midfielder Lamela scored his first goal last week since September 2016, which was his only strike in 16 appearances this season.
In other Tottenham news, Daniel Levy has jetted off on a transatlantic mission to seal a sensational £20million-a-year Spurs deal.