Son can be central Spurs striker, says Pochettino

Matt Stead

Mauricio Pochettino believes Son Heung-min can reprise his role as a central striker in the future after the South Korean helped Spurs to Europa League victory.

The north London side opened their account in Europe this season with a 3-1 win over Azerbaijini outfit Qarabag, with Son scoring two first-half goals in quick succession after starting as a lone striker.

Worries remain over Tottenham in the striking department, with their failed pursuit for West Brom forward Saido Berahino leaving just Harry Kane as a recognised frontman.

However, Pochettino believes Son has shown enough to prove that he can held shoulder the burden with the England international this season.

“He scored twice and played one hour,” Pochettino said. “His performance you can see I am very pleased with him, very happy. His adaptation to the club has been good from the beginning.

“I think I explained before the Sunderland game that Son can play like a striker. He can also play wider. He has the quality to play in different positions on the pitch.

“I think it wasn’t an easy game. We conceded an early goal. But I am happy because the team showed character and in different periods we played well. We had a lot of players playing for the first time – and it is different to training – and for that the victory is very good for us.”

The manager reserved particular praise for Dele Alli, with the 19-year-old providing both assists for Son and looking like the standout player on the night.

“I think Alli in preseason started to show that he can play like an experienced player,” he said.

“He showed personality and quality. He is a player who can play in the first team. But you have to be careful with a 19-year-old – it is important to care for him to keep the level for the season.”

Speaking on the victory, Pochettino added: “Qarabag was no surprise. We saw a lot of their games. I am big fan of theirs now – I like their philosophy and the way they play. They are a very good team. They can fight to go to the next round.

“It is not easy to win the Europa League,” he added. “Whether it is more realistic or not is the big question, like last season. As a big club we have to try to arrive in the final and win the Europa League.”