Why Dele Alli was at centre of Mauricio Pochettino accusing manager of 'hating' him

Former Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino (Image: Getty)

Mauricio Pochettino is back in the headlines this week after he left his position as Chelsea manager. The former PSG boss had overseen an upturn in the Blues’ fortunes in recent months, however, Stamford Bridge overlord Todd Boehly decided to cut ties with the Argentine regardless after just one season.

Pochettino may have only found himself back in the UK for a year, and his time back on these shores was punctuated with ups and downs, but there is perhaps nothing quite as dramatic as the time he claimed a rival ‘hated’ him in a transfer saga that threatened to spin out of control.

Back in 2019, when the Argentine was then manager of Tottenham Hotspur, he launched an astonishing attack on now-Barcelona manager Xavi.

The war of words was ignited when former Barca player Xavi suggested that Manchester City would target Spurs’ Dele Alli in a huge transfer swoop.

Alli was a mainstay in Pochettino’s side at the time with the ex-England international making 38 appearances that season. He had also signed a new six-year deal at Tottenham which was meant to keep him at the club until 2024.

Back in April 2019, the Metro reported that Xavi praised Alli as one of Europe’s hottest properties and bizarrely appeared to suggest he would be an ideal fit for Pep Guardiola’s side – despite having no affiliation with the Manchester club.

“At the moment the best English player there is and also one of the best in Europe is Dele Alli. We are looking at a very special player,” Xavi said. “Technically he is the sort of player that Pep likes, the sort of player that suits the style of game that Pep likes his teams to play.”

Dele Ali in action in his Spurs days (Image: Getty)

The comments clearly rattled Pochettino, however, the former Espanyol player was especially irked after Xavi then talked up a switch that was very much not on the cards at that stage with the former midfield maestro adding: “I am sure it is not going to be a player that Tottenham will want to let go, but we know Manchester City have big resources.”

Pochettino was evidently furious with Xavi’s comments and went on to say that he believes they could have been motivated by his own history with Barcelona’s bitter rivals Espanyol. The ex-Southampton boss then made a strong claim that Xavi ‘hates’ him and wanted to ‘destroy’ Tottenham’s ambitions.

“Xavi is my enemy and tried to destroy our focus to win,” Pochettino said, “Maybe he is working for Manchester City, he wants to help Guardiola.”

Pochettino took aim at Barcelona manager Xavi (Image: Getty)

Pochettino also believed Xavi’s remarks stemmed from a place of hatred and seemed to pose there was some bad blood between the pair that had been brewing since their playing days in La Liga. He added: “He hates me because he is a Barcelona player and a fan. I know him very well, I played against him a lot and when I was a manager.”

Alli, who won the PFA Young Player of the Year award that season, never saw his stock higher than that point in his career and although he never made the switch to City, he did move to Everton in 2021. Pochettino was sacked as Spurs manager a year later and then spent a season at PSG.

Xavi went on to manage Al Sadd in Qatar following his retirement from playing before taking over at Barcelona where he won the La Liga title in the 2022/2023 season.

Source: https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1902824/Dele-Alli-Mauricio-Pochettino-Tottenham-Barcelona-Xavi