Pochettino warns Lucas Moura over Spurs starting role

Ian Watson

Mauricio Pochettino has warned new signing Lucas Moura he will have to earn his place in the Tottenham team.

Moura, who joined from Paris St Germain for an initial fee of £25million, is arguably the biggest name to arrive at Spurs since Pochettino took charge in 2014.

When PSG splashed £38m to take the Brazilian from Sao Paolo five years ago, he was considered one of the next young South Americans ready to take Europe by storm.

His progress stalled in France, particularly after the big-money buys of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last summer, and Moura may not find it easy at his new club either.

Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen are two Pochettino stalwarts, and, when Tottenham have lined up with three behind Harry Kane this season, it has been largely due to the brilliant form of Son Heung-min.

Erik Lamela has found it difficult to regain his place since returning from injury, and Pochettino said Moura too will be given no special preference.

“For him he’s not going to come here, arrive and say, ‘Oh because he is Lucas Moura and came from Paris St Germain, he’s going to play because he is Lucas Moura’,” Pochettino said.

“He needs to show that he is better than our players. That is the fair competition. If you are in Paris St Germain and Neymar arrives, if he is better than you then he plays. It’s fair, he’s better.”

Pochettino continued: “If not, then they need to compete. Lucas Moura must compete with Lamela, with Sonny, with Eriksen.”

Moura is unlikely to make his debut against Liverpool on Sunday given he was still saying his goodbyes in Paris on Friday. The forward will undergo a series of fitness tests, starting on Saturday, and will have to prove his sharpness.

It means Pochettino is likely to pick a similar side that won so impressively against Manchester United in midweek but there may be a difference in approach at Anfield, where Spurs have not tasted victory since May 2011.

They were ripped apart there last year by Liverpool’s pace in attack but there have been signs this season, away to Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, that Tottenham can show a more resilient side.

“I think this season, we are more mature, no?” Pochettino said.

“But we are a team that remember, some people complained or criticised that Tottenham don’t have Plan B.

“Now we can play with possession, without possession, in counter-attack or not counter-attack, dominate the games, play with one striker, without a striker, three at the back, five at the back, four at the back.

“Please. Now to be fair you have to say Tottenham have Plan A, B, C and D, no?”

Toby Alderweireld and Danny Rose have recovered from hamstring and knee injuries respectively but Pochettino has suggested they are yet to regain match fitness.

“I am happy with the evolution, and I am sure it is not too much time for them to start competing in games,” the Argentinian said.

“But to be fit for training and to be fit to start in games is completely different.”

Harry Winks and Serge Aurier may also have to wait. Winks has just overcome an ankle problem and Aurier has shaken off a calf strain.