Mauricio Pochettino has hailed Harry Kane as Tottenham’s Lionel Messi as the England hitman gears up to return from ankle trouble.
Kane has beaten his ankle injury ahead of schedule and could even start Saturday’s Premier League clash with Watford at White Hart Lane.
Spurs have won all three games in Kane’s absence, but boss Pochettino admitted the 19-goal Premier League striker can still transform his side – whether he starts against Watford or not.
And Tottenham’s Argentinian boss believes Kane is now as integral a part of the starting XI at White Hart Lane as the talismanic Messi at the Nou Camp.
“I’m not doubting Harry Kane,” said Pochettino.
“If he plays from the beginning or not tomorrow, I think there’s no doubt that Harry is one of our best players.
“In Barcelona, Messi was injured for a month but Barcelona were still winning.
“And then when Messi’s available again, you don’t say ‘hmm, I don’t know’.
“Different names, I can’t tell you. But there’s no doubt Harry’s one of the best players that we have.
“We’ll see whether he will start the game or be on the bench. But it’s good news that he’s ready. He feels good about his recovery.
“It’s very good news for him and for us. He’s an important player for us, and for him to be available for us is great.
“We are happy, he’s ready, maybe normally after one month out you need to feel the competition. But he’s a special player, he tries to push himself a lot.
“We do need to decide tomorrow if he will be in the starting XI or on the bench. But the good news is he’s back. And he’s our main striker.
“What Harry means for the team is a massive boost for us and it’s fantastic news.
“He’s always desperate to play, he’s always pushing you to try to let him train, play, and score goals. His character is unbelievable.”
After flat out refusing to engage in mind games with Chelsea counterpart Antonio Conte, Pochettino insisted he has no fears about third-choice goalkeeper Pau Lopez’s potential debut.
Spurs will hand Hugo Lloris every chance to shake off a virus, while Michel Vorm is also battling a knee issue.
Spain Under-21s star Lopez could be in for his Spurs debut then, with Pochettino backing the 22-year-old Espanyol loanee to be ready for first-team action.
Chelsea boss Conte branded winning an “expectation” for the Blues, but “not a disaster” for Tottenham, with his Stamford Bridge side still seven points clear at the top of the table.
Pochettino shrugged off the implied jibe, however, claiming Spurs will simply focus on pushing for as many points as possible between now and the end of the campaign.
“Pau Lopez is very young but he’s here because we believe in and trust in him,” the Argentinian added.
“If Hugo or Michel are not ready he’s a keeper that can cope with the pressure of playing.”
And when quizzed on Conte’s comments, Pochettino continued: “I can understand, it’s true that when you are seven points above the second team in the table, it is normal for them to win the league.
“Now it’s up to them to win the league.
“We are in a position that we need to do our job, winning games and put pressure (on them).
“But it’s true that after eight games if they don’t win the Premier League, it will be tough for them to accept.
“I really don’t believe in the mind games, because our mind game is to try to provide a team that believes.”