Mauricio Pochettino has defended struggling Tottenham Hotspur stars Erik Lamela and Roberto Soldado.
The pair, who cost a combined fee of £60 million, did little to show that they warranted such high-price tags in their first season in England and have already found their futures speculated about,
However, manager Pochettino has said that it is often underestimated how hard it is to adapt to Premier League football and has backed them to find form this season.
“I hope that all our squad improves but it’s important to know that Soldado and Lamela – all the players who arrived from a different league – when they don’t speak the same language, it’s difficult to adapt,” he explained.
“For me it was the same. When I was in Spain I thought ‘England, it’s okay, the league - it’s competitive’. But when you arrive you say ‘oh it’s hard, it’s very hard’ - and then you realise that it’s the most competitive league.
“When you stay outside you say ‘it’s easy. It’s easy to play there, easy to manage there’. But when you arrive, you say ‘this is impossible to compare’. It’s not the same. Here, it’s hard.”
Pochettino’s arrival at Spurs has brought an anticipation for the season that wouldn’t ordinarily have been found at White Hart Lane.
The Argentine has been relatively quiet in his first transfer window as Spurs manager, but has brought in players who were needed and backed the stars who faltered in 2013-14 to find their feet under his stewardship.
It is a risk, but if it pays off, then Pochettino has a squad of undoubted quality at Spurs. The club brought in an influx of top world stars last season, following the departure of Gareth Bale and the mega-money that came with it, but most failed to hit top form.
As well as the aforementioned duo, the likes of Paulinho, Etienne Capoue, Nacer Chadli and Vlad Chiriches all failed to adapt to the Premier League and left Spurs stumbling to a sixth-place finish.
And, as a result, Pochettino is looking to trim his squad ahead of the new season.
He said: “I think we need to take a decision now to decide how many players to keep, because we have more than 25. For me, it’s too many players. My idea is 25, no more than 25.
“We need to decide now, after our tour in America, and start to work here and decide our squad for the future.”
It appears that two of these departures may be those of Chiriches and Kyle Naughton. The former has been linked with Roma, while Naughton is of interest to Swansea in what could be a busy month of outgoing transfers at White Hart Lane.