Antonio Conte believes Tottenham Hotspur must invest each season to be able to fight the “monsters” in the Premier League and he has also spoken about the club’s failed attempt to sign Luis Diaz.
Spurs travel to Anfield to face Liverpool on Saturday evening with Jurgen Klopp’s men battling with Manchester City for the Premier League title while Conte’s side need to pick up points in the race for fourth place with Arsenal and Manchester United. Tottenham and Liverpool’s paths have taken different directions in recent years and Conte was asked whether there exists the similar potential for the north London club to grow as the Reds had when Klopp arrived there in 2015.
“I think that every club could have great potential to work. If you have time, passion and a lot of money to invest, you can try to become competitive and to fight against these monsters. I don’t know next season with Newcastle what will happen. In England there are many teams that want to invest a lot of money and try to improve and try to fight for something more special,” said Tale.
“I think Tottenham is not the only team that maybe hope to do this. There are the other teams. For this reason, it’s not simple, it’s not easy. It’s a difficult path because now this league is tough and the gap that exists between the top teams and the other teams is an important gap, but we have to try to work very hard and to improve season by season with good investment. For sure you need to spend money. This is for sure what I’m sure of. “
One player Spurs did try to invest in during the January transfer window was Diaz. Tottenham’s managing director of football Fabio Paratici held negotiations with Porto over the player and the north London club thought a deal was getting closer, only for Liverpool to step up their plans to sign the winger a window early and that was always the Portuguese star’s favored destination.
Tottenham ended up signing Juventus winger Dejan Kulusevski and midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur with both making a big impact for the club since their deadline day arrival as Diaz has done for Liverpool.
“We knew [Diaz] was a top player. I think Paratici tried to see the possibility to sign him, but in the same way, we signed Kulusevski and to see the ability of this player to come into our team, like Rodrigo Bentancur. For us these two signings were very important because the team has improved in quality,” Conte said.
“When there is an important player, it is important to try to sign him because you know a top player will improve your team and the quality of your squad. If you want to win something, for sure you need players at the top, not medium level players.”
Conte is trying to instil a new mentality at Tottenham but had made it clear that he does not believe you can transfer a winning mentality to someone, with it instead being something that must be earned.
“I think that in my opinion you gain the winning mentality, you become a winner in the moment that you start to win. A lot of people speak about ‘winning mentality, winning mentality’ but you start to get the winning mentality when you start to win, because when you start to win you understand that the work that you did brought this result,” he said.
“When you start to win, winning becomes a drug for you and you want to repeat it. You want to have this fantastic moment, to celebrate, to feel in this moment that you are the best, you understand? In the same moment this makes you stronger because when you win it means you are the best.
“When you know that you are the best, you are feeling your belief starting to rise. This is important, because when you are a winner and you start the game, you know that at the end, sooner or later, you are going to win the game.”
Saturday brings a big game at Anfield and Spurs go into the match off the back of a 3-1 victory against Leicester which followed disappointing performances against Brighton and Brentford. Conte suggests that the pressure might have got to his players in those two poor displays.
“It can happen in one game, two games in a row, and you can struggle. This can happen for many reasons, maybe sometimes the pressure has started to become stronger and you need to start to get used to this type of pressure because before the two games against Brighton and Brentford we were behind the others,” he said.
“Then we got into the fourth place and we tried to defend that position, but I think this team and this group of players are improving with every aspect, also to manage the right pressure, and to try to have a game to make our fans and the people who are going to watch the game.”
The Italian dispensed though with the notion that Tottenham have raised their games against the better teams in the Premier League this season but have struggled against those sides they are expected to overcome, which in turn suggests that they play better when they don’t have the weight of expectation on their shoulders.
“No, because I can tell you we played against Chelsea four times and lost every time. This comparison is not right. We lost four times against Chelsea. Chelsea are the same level as Liverpool and City and I think it is not for this reason ,” he said. “For sure, when you play again this sort of team, the pressure is very high, but you also have to enjoy this sort of game because you know you are playing against a really strong team and that this type of progress you have done in these months.
“In this aspect, it will be very important not only to get the points, but also to understand which is our level – the level we are reaching in this kind of game – and also to understand this type of monster.”