Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets has dismissed claims suggesting Raheem Sterling can reach the level of Argentina star Lionel Messi.
The Manchester City winger has been prolific for club and country in the past couple of seasons, thus warranting comparisons to the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Busquets spoke highly of Sterling but refrained from comparing him to Messi. He claimed that such a comparison is harmful to the player’s career.
“Look, Sterling is a player with a big profile and a big potential,” he said, according to the Mirror.
“But comparing him to Leo Messi seems very exaggerated and not positive for the player.
“What is true is that each one is playing a very big role in his club. He is a good player and can also have a lot of influence on the English national team.
“As far as the Champions League is concerned, Manchester City is always one of the candidates. But Barcelona, with Messi, is the favourite for me.”
Mauricio Pochettino will judge how good this current Tottenham squad are at the end of the season.
After two transfer windows without signing a single player, Spurs returned to business this summer and secured the services of Ryan Sessegnon, Giovani Lo Celso, Tanguy Ndomele and Jack Clarke.
Only a handful of key players left, with Kieran Trippier and Fernando Llorente moving on but Pochettino refused to be drawn on whether this group were the best he had been in charge of at Hotspur Way.
“We will see at the end of the season. At the moment I don’t believe this is the best squad,” he said.
“But I think if you only see the results, playing in the final of the Champions League, it’s easy to say the better squad was last season’s squad because we got to the final.
“We will see if we can repeat, or if we win some trophy maybe we can talk about this being the best squad.”
😠 0-1 (4mins)— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) September 20, 2019
😅 1-1 (7mins)
😐 1-2 (16mins)
😫 1-3 (47mins)
🤔 2-3 (49mins)
😏 3-3 (53mins)
😜 4-3 (60mins)
😢 4-4 (73mins)
😍 5-4 (76mins)
An emotional roller coaster against our upcoming opponents. 😅#THFC ⚪️ #COYS pic.twitter.com/cKOz1y8aAL
Spurs’ lack of consistency has been a problem for a while now, arguably stretching back to the beginning of 2019.
A 3-1 win over Leicester in February was Tottenham’s fourth straight victory in the Premier League, but since then the best they have managed in the division is back-to-back wins and they have only achieved this once.
It highlights why Pochettino has been frustrated, but does the fact he constantly changes the team also have an impact on results?
He added: “England is a very competitive country. I’m lucky to have the possibility to play in four competitions, so all need to be ready to play now and is going to have the possibility to play. And they need to show their quality.
“The problem in football is it’s not basketball, that you can change every five minutes, you can play only with 11.
“If you want to give consistency to the team, maybe you need to keep your 11 to play consistently, but the moment that you start to change, if you don’t win, ‘why (did) we change?’. If you win and you want to change, the players that don’t play they need to play more.”
One player who has constantly hit strong performance levels is Harry Winks, even though the midfielder failed to play a single minute for England on international duty recently.
Pochettino admitted the Spurs academy graduate can improve even more, but talked up his development over the past 12 months, which has seen him become a regular starter.
“I think there is still room to improve but I am happy with his mentality,” Tottenham’s manager said.
“He is one of the most aggressive players on the pitch. When he keeps the ball, how he plays, with the ball he is very aggressive, breaking lines, keeping possession, always thinking forwards. I think we expect that from him, but what pleases us the most is his play without the ball.
“The progress, how is working, how he is fighting, how aggressive he is and the hunger to recover the ball quick – that is I think what he need to keep working and pushing on because that is what is going to make the difference to be a good player, or a big player.”
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers insists he would not swap Jamie Vardy for Harry Kane.
Arguably the two best English strikers in the Premier League will take to the field at the King Power Stadium at Saturday lunchtime when the Foxes host Tottenham.
Kane, 26, who had a loan spell with Leicester during the early part of his career, has been a revelation since breaking into the first team at Spurs. His development into an elite striker has impressed Rodgers, who remembers a young Kane from the 2013/14 season.
“Harry is very different to Jamie. I go back to a game about five years ago when I was the Liverpool manager and Harry was on bench for Tottenham then so the strides he has made over those years has been brilliant,” said Rodgers.
“The goals he has scored – he’s become a real talisman for Tottenham and for his country.”
Despite such praise, Rodgers prefers the type of striker that Vardy is. The 32-year-old has been one of the most in-form goal scorers in the Premier League since Rodgers took over at Leicester at the end of February, netting 13 times.
“Harry is a top, top player but I wouldn’t swap Jamie,” said the Foxes boss. “I have worked closely with Jamie for some time now and there’s not many in world football you would swap him for.
“He’s just got this incredible knack in terms of pressing the game and reading the game, and tactically he is so good. He has that hunger and that appetite, desire and speed to get in behind and stretch the game and score. I like that kind of striker.
“At this level, in the most competitive league in the world, he is right up there with the elite strikers in the world and I am very fortunate to have him.”
Both Kane and Vardy have a rich history of scoring goals in recent years. Asked to compare the two former England team-mates, Rodgers said: “They are different types and have very different qualities.
“Harry likes to drop deep and get involved in the build-up play and linking things. I like a striker who can really penetrate in behind and who has that speed. It’s your preference, and also what you have to work with.
“Jamie’s record over his time here shows he’s right up there, that’s for sure. I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s up there alongside Harry.
“(They are) two different strikers with two different qualities but two players right at the very highest level in this league, both have phenomenal goal scoring records.”