Mauricio Pochettino has joked that Tottenham’s £600m bank debt makes everyone at the club cry but it is the reason why they lack the spending power of their rivals and, to his mind, must be judged differently to them – including Arsenal, whom they face at the Emirates on Sunday.

Pochettino highlighted how Arsenal have spent £174m on their attacking line in the last two years, taking first Alexandre Lacazette for £46m from Lyon, then Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for £56m from Borussia Dortmund and, this past summer, Nicolas Pépé for £72m from Lille, while the Tottenham manager’s back-up striker is the 17-year-old academy prospect Troy Parrott, following the release of Fernando Llorente at the end of last season. Parrott has yet to make his first-team debut.

Spurs took on the eye-watering debts to finance the construction of their new stadium – much as Arsenal did with the Emirates – and Pochettino knows he must continue to find different ways to make his club competitive. They slipped up last Sunday at home to Newcastle, which has made a positive result in the derby even more important.

“Arsenal, in the last two years, signed Aubameyang, the best striker in Germany; Lacazette, the best striker in France and, one year after, Pépé,” Pochettino said. “If you see us in five years … now our main striker is Harry Kane but our second specific striker is 17 years old, Troy Parrott. That is the difference in the projects.

“I don’t want to say one is wrong and another is good. It’s only that the way we operate is completely different and, afterwards, we need to compete. Mercedes compete with Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull. After, we compete in the same race and, if you judge, the judgments need not only to be on the race but the whole process. That is why sometimes it’s fair and sometimes it’s not fair.

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“We all cry [about the £600m debt]. Do people need to remember that number? Yes. Different clubs ask the bank for £600m to invest in the team, like Barcelona or different clubs. They create a debt by signing players; putting the debt on the pitch, trying to win.

“We are different. We need to create a legacy for the future. In this period, we are suffering the restrictions but it’s normal. We need to work hard to find a way to compete in this very tough league – in a different way to our rivals.”

Pochettino is keen to re-energise his squad, which was no longer a young one at the end of last season, and he added three prospects over the summer – Tanguy Ndombele, Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani Lo Celso, although the first two are injured and the last of the trio lacks match fitness. Yet greater transition is complicated and time-consuming – and, again, Pochettino suggested that Spurs cannot move as quickly as their rivals.

Tanguy Ndombele is set to miss the clash with Arsenal due to an injury.

Tanguy Ndombele is set to miss the clash with Arsenal due to an injury. Photograph: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

He brought up the example of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who have changed their lineup beyond recognition from the German’s first match in charge, which was the 0-0 draw against Pochettino’s Spurs at White Hart Lane in October 2015. Klopp has retained just three of the 18 players from his squad that day – James Milner, Adam Lallana and Divock Origi – while Pochettino has 10, all of them key players.

“If you do an exercise and see Liverpool when Klopp arrived – a little over one year after me – when we played that 0-0 … not one player from the starting XI is in their starting XI today,” Pochettino said. “If you compare with us, we have eight or nine still in the starting XI. Look at the difference.

“You know very well that the debt of our club is £600m with the banks and, for sure, when you are delivering a project that Tottenham have been delivering in the last five years, you cannot compare with another club. That is why Tottenham need to be judged under some circumstances and not when you compare the team with another team like Manchester City.

“Only people like Daniel [Levy, the chairman] can manage this kind of situation [with the debt]. Daniel and the board are capable to create this type of situation and to provide the team, to provide us and the fans, this massive project to feel that we are a big club.”



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