The ex-England, Tottenham and Bournemouth man talks exclusively to Sportingbet on Tottenham's hopes of lifting the Champions League trophy, transfers and lots more.

Juan Mata | Sportingbet

Champions League Final

Who do you think will win the Champions League Final?

"I think Tottenham will win the Champions League Final. All the pressure if on Liverpool to win and that will play in to Tottenham’s hands. After the incredible run that Tottenham have had in the Champions League this season, I would back them to bring the trophy home.

"Liverpool are favourites for obvious reasons, but it certainly feels that Spurs name is on the trophy; they’ve had an incredible run. When it comes down to a one-off match, I would back Spurs on the day against anyone. It should be a great final and I think Spurs will edge it 2-1."

Is there a danger that Harry Kane might miss the Champions League Final through injury?

"Kane’s name will be on the starting sheet for Tottenham in the Champions League final, there’s not a chance he won’t be playing. The way he sprinted across the field after the semi finals looked like he was ready to play there and then!

"His only worry is his match sharpness, but the adrenaline of the Champions League Final will carry him through the game. The most important factor is that he doesn’t cause any more damage to his body, but there is no chance that he will miss out on this opportunity."

After missing out narrowly on the Premier League title, should Liverpool fail to win the Champions League, would their season be viewed as a failure?

"Whether Liverpool lose the Champions League Final or not, this can only be seen as a very successful season for the club. To only lose one Premier League game all season and reach the Champions League Final represents a a great season.

"Van Dijk has come in and made a massive difference to them but across the whole team, they have been phenomenal. Liverpool are a club who are on fire at the moment, they’ve just been very unfortunate that Manchester City are probably the best team the Premier League have ever seen."

How big of an achievement is it that Tottenham have reached the Champions League Final?

"Tottenham’s achievements this season have been nothing short of incredible, especially after being written off after spending no money in the transfer window.

"They moved into the new stadium at exactly the right time to give them a much-needed boost mentally, which meant they were able to ride out their blip of bad form and finish the season strongly.

"Going into the season, every Tottenham fan would have bit your hand off for the position they are in now, especially with their lack of transfer activity in the summer. Tottenham’s achievements show you what an incredible manager Pochettino is; he has managed to get the absolute best out of those players. However, it also says a lot about the players that are already there at the moment. It is a really good squad of players with a lot of fantastic young English talent as well, as shown by how well they did for England at the World Cup last year."

Are Liverpool’s board going to be putting the pressure on Klopp to deliver next season if they don’t win the Champions League final?

"Klopp’s jobs not in danger, but he knows more than anyone that he will have to start delivering trophies soon. They’ve got great players, but it means nothings unless they can deliver silverware. You can see from the way that the Liverpool players react to him after games, they absolutely love him. Klopp clearly loves the club so the set-up is perfect. The Champions League Final presents a great opportunity for Liverpool."

Tottenham have an array of attacking talent at their disposal, who should Pochettino start in the final?

"It was Lucas Moura’s Semi-Final heroics that got Spurs to the final and I do think he’ll start the final with Dele Alli playing deeper.

"Kane needs to start, Son has been a revelation this season, and Eriksen is the one, for me, who really makes everything tick for Spurs in terms of creating chances. I think Dele could play a deeper role, some will argue that in doing so, you don’t get the best out of him and it could leave Tottenham quite exposed to Liverpool’s incredible front three. Ultimately, it is the front players on both teams that will make the difference, the attacking players on each team have the individual ability that can win the game and I think Tottenham just about edge Liverpool in that department."

Do you think Coutinho would’ve won Liverpool the league had he stayed at the club?

"We’ll never know if Coutinho would have provided the extra creative spark that they would have needed to get them over the line and have converted one of their draws in to a win. He’s a top quality players but it’s impossible to know the impact he’d have had this year.

"If there is a chance for Liverpool to resign him, then they may well consider putting the past behind them and taking him back. He’s obviously not had a great time at Barcelona but he was the main man at Liverpool and he made them tick. Liverpool drew too many games that they were expected to win. Teams made it very difficult for them, and I think Coutinho will add that bit of creative quality to help open teams up that set up so defensively."

Tottenham transfers

Who do Tottenham need to sign and keep hold of this summer?

"Tottenham’s wage structure means that regardless of whether they win the Champions League or not, they won’t be able to sign Europe’s top talent. I think that Alderweireld is the one player that has already made his decision and he won’t be at the club next season.

"At the end of the day, the very top players are going to want top money and Spurs don’t pay what United, City, Liverpool and Chelsea do. There is always going to be an issue with certain players, because whether they admit it or not they are always going to want as much money as they can get, regardless of how ridiculous all the money being thrown around is at the moment.

"If Tottenham do win the Champions League, it would make it more difficult for the likes of Eriksen and Vertonghen to walk out the door, but at the end of the day, money talks. Tottenham have an incredible stadium an incredible manager in Pochettino. If you are a player looking in from a far, I would like to think it is a team that most players would love to come be part of and make a difference and help Tottenham challenge consistently.

"Tottenham have everything set up to go and be a top team for the next decade, but if they aren’t able to offer the big money to accompany the stadium and the manager, it’s going to be very difficult to attract the top players and keep hold of their stars."

Jack Grealish has been linked with Tottenham. Would he make a good signing?

"Jack Grealish wouldn’t improve Tottenham’s team and they’ve got better players in his position already. We’ve seen from his performances for Aston Villa this season that he's a very talented player but he isn’t good enough to walk straight into their starting team.

"Grealish certainly has the potential to develop into a top, top player and he would fit the Spurs ethos, but if he joins it would very much be as a squad player."

Would Wilfried Zaha be a good signing for Tottenham?

"Wilfried Zaha wouldn’t get in Tottenham’s starting team and he would be too expensive to sit on the bench. There’s no doubting he is an excellent player but I don’t see him coming into the Tottenham team and replacing the likes of Son, Eriksen, Alli or Kane.

"He’s has got a little bit of arrogance, swagger and a real belief in his ability, but he would be a hell of a lot of money to spend on someone who is not going to walk straight into the team. If he was to come in as a squad player, he would be an incredible addition."

Kieran Trippier has struggled with his form this season. Who do you see as a good replacement for him?

"Tottenham need to get Wan-Bissaka before another club signs him. Kieran Trippier had a brilliant World Cup but he has really struggled at times this season and I think Wan-Bissaka would be a great signing and an excellent long-term replacement for him.

"Spurs play more games than Palace which he would need to adapt to and he would be expected to get up and down the pitch even more than he does already but he has the quality to make the step up. I think he would really bring the best out of Tripper again as well."

Should Tottenham sign Ryan Sessegnon?

"Ryan Sessegnon would be the perfect signing for Tottenham. He has had a tough season with Fulham, not quite reaching the heights that everyone expected of him but he is a young player who is learning the game and Pochettino would get that out of him.

"He is a player who has been talked about for a long time, and someone who has been linked with Spurs a couple of times before. He will have his work cut out if he thinks he can walk in a replace Danny Rose and Ben Davies though; Rose is different class and Ben Davies always comes in and does a job. Nevertheless, he would be a good signing for the future of the club."

Would Tielemans be a good signing for Tottenham?

"Tielemans had a good half season at Leicester but Tottenham should look to sign Ajax’s Van de Beek over the Belgian. He was excellent in both legs against Tottenham and would be a great signing for the club. He’s a different class to the other players Tottenham have been linked with and the one I think they need to sign ahead of anyone else."

Do you think Eriksen will be in a Tottenham shirt next season?

"Tottenham have a near impossible job of keeping Eriksen at Tottenham whether they win the Champions League or not. Eriksen is good enough to walk into any team in the world. He’s a rare breed of player that can score as many goals as he can create. His passing and awareness are out of this world, he’s world class.

"Although some Spurs fans thought he disappeared a little bit in big games, there was never a doubt of what he could do and he’s pulled them out of sticky situations this season.

"Once the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona’s declare an intereste in him, it’s going to be difficult for Tottenham to compete with them. At some point in a players career they are going to want to play at one of those clubs, it’s natural. He is a loyal guy, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he does stay but it’s far from a formality."

What’s Alderweireld and Vertonghen’s future at the club?

"Nathan Aké would be the perfect replacement for Alderweireld at Tottenham. With Alderweireld’s contract up in the summer, all the signs point to him leaving the club which would be terrible for Spurs.

"Vertonghen is also coming into the final year of his contract and he is at the age where a club of Barcelona’s stature would be very interested in him. It’s very worrying when you talk about those players as this would leave a big hole in the defence that would need replacing quickly.

"Aké is a class player, he’s a very good defender who is comfortable on the ball. Eddie Howe getting him down to Bournemouth has been one of his greatest achievements at the club. Bournemouth owe a lot of their Premier League survival to Aké. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Tottenham going for him. I know that Nathan Aké is very happy at Bournemouth, but Tottenham is a very attractive option."

Adrien Rabiot is out of contract at PSG and there has been a lot of talk about him signing for a Premier League club, do you think Tottenham have the chance of signing him?

"Rabiot would be a fantastic addition to the Tottenham team, but he is going to have his pick of most top clubs. Rabiot is a top draw player, if he came to Spurs, he would fit in with the way that Spurs play very easily. He has got so much ability, so much awareness. He passes the ball beautifully. He is a player I really rate and would love to see at the club."

Do Tottenham need to replace Fernando Llorente or has he done enough to justify his position in the team?

"It would be a mistake for Tottenham not to keep Fernando Llorente at the club. He is the perfect player for what Tottenham needs in his position and it would be disappointing if he wasn’t Tottenham’s second choice striker next season.

"Whoever comes in needs to know that they will be behind Harry Kane in the pecking order, which is difficult to find. No top, top striker in the world is going to accept that and that is why I think that Llorente really fits the bill for what Spurs need.

"Llorente has done a great job for Tottenham this season. It is so difficult as a player to come in for a handful of games and deliver; you lose your match sharpness and are off the pace and you could see that when Llorente played over Christmas when Harry was out. He managed to get three or four games under his belt and he was just a different class. I don’t think Tottenham will be able to bring in anyone more effective than him as a second or third choice striker."

Tottenham squad

Son seems to perform better without Kane in the team. How does Pochettino get the best out of both players?

"Once Son and Kane click together on the pitch, they are going to be an absolute nightmare for defenders. There is no reason why they can’t play together, as they both have enough quality to make sure they are getting the best out of each other.

"Son has enjoyed the freedom of playing up front in Kane’s absence as that is where he can affect the game. When Kane is back in the team, he will need to shift out wide. That will mean that he will need to be more disciplined but he has enough quality to still make a difference.

"Son is so positive and direct and has been different class this season. Even when he went away on international duty, despite flying back overnight, he played the next day and his energy was absolutely ridiculous. Playing together consistently with a fully-fit Kane next season will cause all sorts of problems for Tottenham’s opponents."

Kane has had a torrid time with injuries this season. How much will his injuries affect him next season?

"Kane will be back even stronger both physically and mentally after his last injury. Some players are affected after a recurring injury, but there’s no danger of this round of injuries breaking him or getting into his head; he is too mentally strong for that.

"His recent injury was the result of a bad tackle but these things happen in football. Once he manages to get six straight games under his belt, he’ll stop thinking about his injury and will play with freedom. Forget all the natural ability that Harry has, it is his mental strength that is one of his main attributes. I don’t worry about him pulling out of challenges or constantly thinking about the next injury; Harry is too strong for that. He will come back better than ever next season after a good break in the summer."

Why has Alli not been at his best this season?

"Dele Alli has arguably not reached the heights of his last two seasons, but perhaps that’s a result of not having a proper pre-season after his heroics in the World Cup. Players like Alli and Trippier only had a few weeks off and then were straight back into competitive action. As a result, Alli has picked up a couple of niggling injuries along the way which has resulted in a dip in form.

"Alli exploded on to the scene at such a young age that it’s easy to forget that he is still a young player and it’s normal for young players to suffer with a little bit of inconsistency. He’s also been playing in a slightly deeper role which has resulted in less goals and assists since the New Year.

"I would have him in my team all day long. He is a player that loves the big stage. I have got no worries about him in the long term. He is a top draw, he has got bags of belief in his own ability and I think next year will be a big season for him."

What do you think Tripper’s future is at Tottenham after a tough season?

"Tripper has to be Tottenham’s first choice right back regardless of who they sign. He proved his quality on the biggest stage at the World Cup and you don’t lose that overnight. Tottenham need to reinject him with confidence. If Spurs were to sign another right back, the competition might bring the best out of him.

"He needs a good rest this summer, to get refreshed both mentally and physically and he will come back stronger ready for what will be a great season."

Will Tottenham look to replace Lloris?

"Hugo Lloris has to start for Tottenham between the sticks next season. He is a World Cup winning captain and one of the world’s best goalkeepers, they simply won’t be able to find anyone better than him, anyway."


Will Pochettino leave if Tottenham win the Champions League?

"Pochettino’s threat to leave Tottenham if they win the Champions League is a real one and Levy should be taking it very seriously. This would be a massive blow to the club and I don’t think that Pochettino is playing mind games with Daniel Levy, I think the concern is genuine.

"He is telling Levy not to take what he is done for granted and that without heavy investment, it will be an impossible task to stay at the desired level. You’d like to think that if Tottenham win the Champions League, he will stick around to build on his success. However, he is a man in demand, and there will always be a queue of clubs ready to give him what he wants.

"The problem is that Tottenham are never going to be able to afford the £400,000 - £500,000 a week contracts that the top players expect. It just doesn’t work in accordance with the way that the club is run. The reality is though, in order to stay competitive, there needs to be investment in the squad."

Where Man Utd too quick to hire Solskjær and they should have focused their attentions on prying Pochettino away from Tottenham?

"Man Utd were too quick to hire Solskjær and Pochettino would have been better suited to handle the task that’s at hand at the club. I’m glad they hired Solskjaer as it meant the Pochettino rumour went away, but Utd seemed to have rushed the decision.

"He came in and got off to a great start, but when you look at where they are at now, it almost looks as if the players decided to work that little bit harder over that period of time and then almost gave up. Also, if you look back at their unbeaten run, those were probably games that they should have been winning anyway.

"At the start, he came in and gave the whole club that freedom to go and express themselves and the chance to move away from the blame culture experienced under Mourinho, but now his lack of experience in management is really showing. If Solskjær is able to recruit the players that he wants over the summer, they have a good chance of achieving success next season."

Is Pochettino in the running to be England’s next manager?

"Pochettino would be the perfect replacement for Southgate as England’s next manager, especially as most of the squad have already worked with him. When the time comes for Southgate to move on, Pochettino has more than proven what he can get out of England’s players.

"You can see from his work with Tottenham and Southampton just how good he is at getting the best out of the young English players. His record throughout his career has shown that he is able to get the best out of his players, so he could be the coach to take England to the next level."


Should Bournemouth be finishing higher up the table?

"Bournemouth have been an absolute breath of fresh air since arriving in the Premier League, but they need to push on now. Eddie will expect them to get better year on year, he will demand it of himself and his players, and he is the man to keep leading Bournemouth on their journey.

"What Eddie has accomplished at the club means that he has almost guaranteed himself a job for life. He has made them competitive, they are now paying good wages and are able to attract top players; they are in a great position."

Will Bournemouth be able to keep hold of Wilson, King and Fraser?

"Bournemouth are going to find it very difficult to keep hold of their star players this summer. The likes of Callum Wilson, Joshua King and Ryan Fraser will have attracted a lot of attention from the Top 6 and it will be very difficult for Bournemouth to turn down a big money offer for them.

"If a big club decides they want a player nowadays, it’s almost impossible for the smaller club to keep them. They are top, top players who are good enough to challenge themselves at the next level but from a Bournemouth perspective, if you do want to go on and get better as a club, then of course, you need to keep those sorts of players."

Fraser has been linked with Arsenal. Would he be good enough to break in to their first team?

"Ryan Fraser would be an excellent signing for Arsenal, he is a top-quality player and has the right attitude to go with it. He would give Arsenal the extra quality they need to challenge for the automatic Champions League spots.

"At the moment, it looks like he is more than happy where he is and I don’t think Bournemouth want to see him go. If a big club do come in for him, then it will be extremely difficult to keep hold of him."

Wilson has been linked with Everton and Chelsea; can you see either of them happening?

"Bournemouth will find it very difficult to keep hold of Callum Wilson this summer. I can understand if Wilson’s head has been turned by Chelsea but wouldn’t understand if were to join Everton, as it’s not a massive step up from where he’s playing.

"Wilson would be a great signing for Chelsea but I don’t think that the club would be the right fit for him – there is a danger that he will be frozen out and not have the chance to play games consistently."

Is Lloyd Kelly worth £13 million and did the top 6 miss out on him?

"The Top 6 missed a trick by not signing Lloyd Kelly but Bournemouth was the best move for him at this stage of his career. It is a great place for a young player to learn their trade and develop. As long as he does his work on the pitch, he will have the chance to play; something that isn’t the case at a Top 6 club."

General Premier League

Is there any chance Hazard will be a Chelsea player next season?

"Eden Hazard will be joining Real Madrid this summer, there is no doubt about that. His head has been turned and it seems like a done deal. Chelsea would have struggled to replace him full stop, but with the impeding transfer ban they could have real problems.

"It does open up the door for the younger players to step-up and make a difference. Chelsea still have world class players within their squad, but it would make a huge, huge difference if Hazard does go and they are not able to re-invest the money - I would worry about their Top 4 chances next season."

Arsenal may not improve on last season’s performance should they not win the Europa League – do you think their issues are bigger than just blaming the manager?

"Arsenal have had to adapt to a new manager this season which is never easy. They’ve had a decent season and will only get better next year, unfortunately. Going forward, they have bundles of attacking talent, they need to strengthen defensively if they have any chance of success."

Just moving onto England’s chances and the Nation’s League this summer. How big of a test have England got against Holland?

"This current crop of English players has the potential to become the new golden generation. We’ve seen from how well they did in the summer, it is a young team that is now playing with confidence and the belief that they can do it on the biggest stage. They also have a manager in Gareth Southgate that is very thoughtful in his approach to football and is ideal for getting the best out of the good talent. He has seen a lot of his players progress through the youth ranks and has built a solid foundation.

"England face a massive test against Holland when they face them in the Nations League this summer. After failing to qualify for the World Cup last summer, Holland will be looking to prove themselves against a great England team. They have a very good young team, including some of those unbelievable Ajax players and they will be a really big test for England."