The rumors that Harry Kane and Hugo Lloris are unhappy with their salaries continue to swirl around Tottenham Hotspur this week. Reports have suggested that Kane and Lloris have both put a halt to negotiations over new contracts for now and that both are pushing to have weekly wages closer to what their contemporaries in the Premier League are making at other clubs.
Mauricio Pochettino addressed these concerns in a press conference ahead of Spurs’ match against West Ham at White Hart Lane, and tried to tamp down supporter angst that this might be a harbinger to actual conflict between the players and Tottenham.
"For us they are players that are very important, Harry and Hugo. They are very happy to be here and we are very happy that they are here.
"Maybe there are a lot of rumors that can affect our fans but the fans need to be quiet and have no worries about this because the players show their commitment to the club. They want to be here for the long term.
"I think the club and the players are talking about maybe improving or having extended contracts. In the future I think it's not a big problem to do."
It’s hard to get a sense as to whether Pochettino’s comments indicate that there’s a germ of truth that Harry Kane is dissatisfied with this salary compared to other top strikers in the Premier League, or whether he’s just responding to media-based rumors. After all, the original source of this scuttlebutt was The Sun, a completely unreliable source for football rumors on a good day. I’m still not sure that there really is a whole lot of actual discontent between these players and the club.
On the other hand, players talk to each other. Coming off an international break, Kane in particular is probably talking to players like Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy and wondering why, if Leicester can afford to pay over £100k/week for a player, Spurs can’t (or won’t).
In his comments, Pochettino tried to smooth this over as well.
"You cannot compare their situation with another player. In my life, when I was a player and now as a manager, I need to be happy with what I won, what I need, but never to compare with another, because it's not important.
"I don't know, what happens in another club is their business. I can say that they're happy. I can feel every day that they're happy. I'm calm. I 100% trust the club and (chairman) Daniel Levy. He's doing a fantastic job with the club. The future is brilliant.”
This may be true, but it’s also coach-speak and a bit naïve to think that maintaining an artificial wage salary cap is anything but taking advantage of the players’ loyalty to the club. I’m sure Kane doesn’t want to leave Spurs, nor does he especially want to rock the boat with the club that trained him and gave him his chance to become a footballing star. But it would be quite easy for him or Hugo to refuse to sign another contract and force a mega-million dollar move to another club, and Daniel Levy no doubt knows that as well.
Tottenham are in a precarious financial situation at the moment with a new stadium to finance. Maintaining the overall financial health of the club is of paramount importance to avoid the sort of austerity measures that Arsenal experienced when they built the Emirates. Part of that is no doubt going to be trying to keep their best players happy for the next year or so, but on a cut-rate budget.
I still don’t know what this means for Hugo and Harry, and we probably won’t know for a while. Either they’ll eventually sign a new contract, or they won’t. Either way, there probably isn’t too much reason to worry about it right this minute.