Mauricio Pochettino offers rare insight into Tottenham's 'relentless' Harry Kane

The Spurs manager was full of praise for the England international and his commitment to training in particular

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The Independent Football

Harry Kane goes up against his great rival Romelu Lukaku on Sunday; two of the three joint-top scorers in this season’s Premier League, two of the best young strikers in the game.

Mauricio Pochettino did not want to choose between the pair at his press conference on Friday, saying it was natural he would prefer Kane just as Ronald Koeman would prefer Lukaku. But the Argentine did give a rare insight into Kane, talking up his strength of character and his relentless insistence to Pochettino and assistant Jesus Perez that he can do all the training - especially the shooting practice - that he wants.

It was a surprise admission from Pochettino given Kane is one of the most amiable friendly players at Tottenham but it was an illustration of his commitment and drive to become the best player he can.

Pochettino spoke at length about what he understands “strength of character” to mean and how it meant far more than just emotion and noise. “If you see me shouting on the touchline, behaving like a mad man, you will maybe explain that Pochettino has a very strong character,” he said. “But for me, character is not what you show on the touchline. Character is in every single decision: when you're inside, when you are face-to-face in a room - that is when you need to be brave.”

That is what Pochettino meant when he talked up Kane’s character. It means that he knows where he wants to go and he is prepared to challenge and push his own manager, as difficult as that is, to get there. “What I want to explain is Harry Kane has a very good character, he’s very strong, he’s very professional,” Pochettino said. “He’s a player that always challenge you and that is what I like, like Dele [Alli] or Hugo [Lloris].”

The particular issue where Kane challenges Pochettino is in training. Kane loves working hard in training, making himself the best player he possibly can be. But what he especially enjoys is shooting sessions and scoring goals. There are times when Pochettino wants the players to rest when Kane says he would rather be out on the field.

“Sometimes Harry is upset because he wants to do finishing on the afternoon and we say no,” Pochettino revealed with a smile. “‘It’s not the moment. Tomorrow.’ ‘No, but I want to today in the afternoon. I want to do double session.’  ‘Harry, no. Harry, no.’ ‘Oh gaffer, Jesus [Perez], come on, I feel good, I am not tired.’ ‘No, but it’s not good for you.’ Then it was, ‘OK, on the end, maybe half an hour finishing.’ Even though we needed to call two or three keepers from the Academy. That shows his determination and character.”

Not many Tottenham players challenge Pochettino on his methods but the fact that Kane can push and push him and get what he wants – all in entirely good spirit it must be said – shows the natural authority that the 23-year-old has here. The fact that he has 66 Premier League goals already counts for something too, a remarkable record. Lukaku, also 23, is doing even better with 77. Of course Pochettino did not want to go into too much detail comparing the two but his admiration for both players was clear.

“We need to be very respectful with both,” Pochettino said. “I know everyone wants to discuss who is better. For me, both are great players with their quality and their skills. For me both would be in a list of the best 10 strikers in Europe. To compare is too difficult. If you ask Koeman, Lukaku is the best. If you ask me, of course, Harry Kane is the best. For different qualities, both are great, great strikers.”

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