Pochettino interest has turned my head, reveals 22-year-old Tottenham target
By Tottenham correspondent Tony Hughes
Lyon defender Samuel Umtiti has admitted he is flattered by the interest of Tottenham.
Football Insider revealed last week that the Premier League high flyers are aiming to bolster their defence in the summer.
Pochettino subsequently told French radio station RMC Sport that Umtiti is one of the players on Spurs’ radar as they look to reinforce the Premier League’s meanest backline.
“Yes, Umtiti is an interesting player with great potential that could come to England,” Pochettino said, when asked specifically about the youngster. “He is one of the players that our recruitment team is following.”
The 22-year-old centre-back spoke highly of the Spurs manager when those comments were put to him.
Subscribe to Football Insider TV now
“It is flattering that Pochettino is interested in me, he is a manager that I like and his team is performing well, Umtiti said, as quoted by the Mirror.
“I want to finish this season well, that is my priority. I watch all the leagues but I think the Spanish league suits me best.”
Umtiti has been a mainstay of the Lyon team this season and is able to play at either left-back or centre-half.
The London club’s title challenge, which ended following their 2-2 draw against Chelsea on Monday night, was built upon a defence that has conceded just 28 goals in 36 league matches, comfortably the best record in the division.
Toby Alderweireld was in the PFA Premier League team of the season after forming an outstanding centre-back partnership with fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen.
Either side of them, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker have had fine seasons in the full-back positions, with the left-back also named in the PFA team of the season, while defensive understudies Kevin Wimmer, Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier have all stood in impressively at various times.
But Spurs want more defensive options as they prepare for a return to the Champions League next season.
Following Eric Dier’s transformation this season into a midfield anchorman, Pochettino has only three senior centre-backs.
Milos Veljkovic joined Bundesliga side Werder Bremen on the final day of the January window, while Federico Fazio moved to Sevilla on loan ahead of a likely permanent move to the Spanish side in the summer.
Wimmer filled in for Vertonghen for nine league games in which Tottenham lost one and conceded just six goals.
However, the Austrian remains the only senior back-up centre-back to the first choice duo now that Dier has been converted into a midfielder and Pochettino is keen to rectify this shortfall even though he has high hopes for teenager Cameron Carter-Vickers.
In other Tottenham news, Spurs are battling with Arsenal to sign the ‘next Riyad Mahrez’.