Mauricio Pochettino has revealed Tottenham’s head of recruitment Paul Mitchell is due to remain with the club until the end of next year despite resigning in August.
Mitchell chose to quit Spurs after growing frustrated in the summer transfer window but he was required to serve a period of notice before completing his departure. Pochettino has now said the agreed period was for 16 months.
Despite Pochettino’s increasing influence over transfers – he assumed the job title of ‘manager’ instead of ‘head coach’ in May – Tottenham do want to replace Mitchell and are actively seeking his successor.
Press Association Sport understands Spurs expect to appoint their new scouting chief far sooner than the end of 2017 and that Mitchell’s lengthy notice period will act as a safety net, designed to ensure the role is not left vacant. Mitchell is likely to leave once a replacement is found.
It does, however, leave Tottenham in the awkward position of having an outgoing head of recruitment still in charge for the approaching January transfer window, and potentially next year’s summer transfer window too.
Pochettino, however, insists there is no conflict of interest.
“It’s normal,” Pochettino said. “It’s difficult to find a replacement. It’s difficult to move quickly. Always it’s to protect our club and our interests.”
Pochettino continued: “He is still working and that does not affect the situation for us. When he handed in his notice, the notice was 16 months and he will be working until the end of the season, doing the same job.
“He is doing his job because Tottenham are paying his salary and it’s not his decision to sign players – it is Tottenham’s as a club.
“But with him or without him, or with another person, it is always difficult to sign players in January.”
Mitchell’s record since he joined Spurs in November 2014 has been mixed.
The club signed Dele Alli in the following January transfer window but the midfielder’s move was more down to the work of David Pleat.
Toby Alderweireld, Kieran Trippier, Son Heung-min and Victor Wanyama have been notable successes but Kevin Wimmer, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, Moussa Sissoko and Vincent Janssen are all currently on the fringe of the first team.
Clinton Njie was sent to Marseille on loan in August after an underwhelming debut campaign.
Pochettino admits a club like Tottenham, without the boundless riches of the Premier League’s other top clubs and with a new stadium still needing to be financed, have to take more risks.
“When you compare us with Liverpool, Chelsea, City, United and Arsenal, in this moment it is very difficult to compete with them,” Pochettino said.
“The challenge is to be clever and to take risks – and as we know, when you take risks in football, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”
Sissoko showed glimpses of the player Tottenham hoped they were buying for £30million in August when he came off the bench against Manchester United on Sunday, with Pochettino declaring himself “very pleased” with the Frenchman’s performance.
Sissoko, however, has made only four league starts this season while 21-year-old Nkoudou is yet to start in any competition.
“Always it is difficult for players when they arrive in the Premier League,” Pochettino said.
“Sissoko didn’t have a proper pre-season so when he arrived he struggled to get fit. Then they have to assimilate new concepts – we play very different to Newcastle and his national team in France – and it is normal to need time to adapt.”
On Nkoudou, Pochettino said: “He is very young, he came from Marseille only to play for half a season, not to play very much, he is very young, he is potentially a good player but you cannot put the responsibility from day one and say ‘come on, you need to perform’.
“You need to work hard and understand our philosophy in a completely different culture and discipline. It is tough to come to Tottenham today because we are very demanding.”
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