Mauricio Pochettino: Real Madrid are not the Cristiano Ronaldo team
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino says Real Madrid are not a one-man team that rely on Cristiano Ronaldo, just a few days after he hit out at Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola for calling his side "the Harry Kane team."
Ahead of Tottenham's visit to the Santiago Bernabeu for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Madrid, Pochettino said that while Ronaldo was a key figure for the European champions, they are not overly reliant on him.
"[Ronaldo] is a very important player, but they have lots of very good players," he is quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror. "The squad they have is amazing and they have a very good manager.
"They're a fantastic club, but you need contributions from the whole squad to win titles. Cristiano is like [Barcelona's Lionel] Messi, they have a huge impact on their team. He's one of the best players in the world, it's clear."
Pochettino also said it is only natural that big clubs like Madrid take notice of Kane's current form, but added the striker's "dream" remains to do "something big" with his "boyhood club."
England international Kane has 15 goals in his last 11 games for club and country, including five in this season's first two Champions League group games, and has been linked with a potential move to Madrid next summer.
Pochettino told AS that Kane was well able to deal with such attention as he has always remained grounded.
"He takes this all very, very naturally," he said. "Harry is a kid who is very mature, who sees things very clearly. His dream is to do something big with Tottenham, his boyhood club.
"That big teams recognise the work he has done, and featuring in media speculation only encourages you to keep going on the same path. He is an exceptional person, a humble kid, with great life values. You really like coaching a guy like this, as he makes your life much easier."
Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli has also been linked with Madrid amid new contract talks,
Pochettino suggested Alli, 21, had the potential to be talked about in such a way but was still young and learning.
Asked if Alli was also good enough to be linked with Madrid, he said: "Why not? It's true that now is a completely new phase of his career.
"But Dele has potential, ability, energy and an aura you cannot fail to notice. He is still young, and still must improve and learn in many things. We are trying to provide him with the best tools so that he can establish himself in this [top] zone."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan