Pochettino hits back at 'enemy' Xavi over Alli speculation


Mauricio Pochettino believes "enemy" Xavi is out to destroy Tottenham's focus after the Barcelona great said he expects Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to make a move for Dele Alli.

The crown jewel at White Hart Lane, PFA Young Player of the Year Alli has developed into one of Europe's most sought-after players since bursting onto the scene with Tottenham in 2015.

Alli's exploits have alerted some of Europe's biggest clubs, including City, who are keen to lure the 21-year-old England international midfielder to the Etihad Stadium, according to Xavi - now playing for Qatari outfit Al Sadd.

Former Espanyol boss Pochettino hit back at Xavi and his character in a light-hearted attack amid speculation over Alli's future.

"He's in a period when he loves to talk, he's in Doha and -- listen -- he was a Barcelona player, he's my enemy. He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he's Barcelona -- a player, a fan, you know," said Pochettino.

"I know him [Xavi] very well, I played against him a lot and when I was a manager [at Espanyol]. Thierry [Henry] was here and we remembered the game that he [Xavi] cheated the referee. He fell down, it wasn't a penalty, but [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won the game.

"The marking man was Raul Baena, Xavi fell down and said 'penalty.' They gave a penalty. After, in the video [replay], it was very funny because no one touched him and everyone in the media was saying, 'No, no trust me -- it was a penalty.' Come on! It goes from lie to lie to lie.

"I don't know what Xavi said but he is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and [club captain Vincent] Kompany."

Pochettino, whose Tottenham are seventh points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea ahead of their trip to Crystal Palace on Wednesday, added: "I think, because we are doing good things, the clubs with a lot of potential are focused on our talented players.

"My relationship with Daniel Levy is so close so far. You know the relationship between chairman and manager can change in a moment but the good thing is we have the plan to try to improve, and we will deliver it when we finish the season.

"The players that we want to keep, we will keep, because he said to me 'we don't need money'. If we sell some players it is because we want to sell some players.

"We will sell players because of the players we want to sign. For our fans, it is so clear that all the decisions we take are for the reason to try to improve the team, to try to be more competitive next season."