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Mauricio Pochettino accepts Tottenham's stars may want to leave

LONDON -- Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has accepted that his leading players are entitled to want to leave the club if they continue to fall short of silverware.

But Pochettino insisted that he was not worried about the likes of Manchester City signing his stars and reminded his squad that the club would only sanction sales on their terms.

For all Spurs' progress under Pochettino, they are still yet to win a trophy during his three-and-a-half year tenure and they are already 18 points behind Saturday's opponents City in this season's Premier League title race.

Spurs have previously sold leading players like Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, and this summer Kyle Walker became the first high-profile departure under Pochettino, joining City for £50 million and doubling his salary in the process.

Ahead of the trip to the Etihad Stadium, Pochettino was asked if he was concerned about more players following Walker by leaving to win trophies but he said: "We're not worried. We know how our project is and who we are, and in the end we try to develop our project not only thinking about today and tomorrow, but thinking long-term.

"That is so important, because it's not only that we need to win today, tomorrow, after tomorrow. We need to win today, tomorrow and in one year and two, three, four years. That is the plan for Tottenham. It may be completely different than others teams, that the most important thing is to win today. That is a good point for the debate when people assess us and compare with another team."

Toby Alderweireld -- who has been reluctant to sign an extension to his contract -- is 29, while Danny Rose, who has reportedly attracted interest from others clubs, is 27. It was suggested to Pochettino that some of his players may not want to wait another four years to win trophies.

"Exactly, that is the problem. I agree with you," he replied. "Maybe some players are not agreed in this plan and this strategy, and of course they are right to complain, to talk and in the end to want to move or have another challenge for different reasons, because we are all different and we all have different challenges, motivations, roles in our life.

Mauricio Pochettino takes his Tottenham side to Manchester City on Saturday.

"That is normal. The most important thing is to talk, to design the plan for everyone and then be happy because life is about enjoying and being happy. It's not about wasting time in a bad way, because life is so short.

"It's human nature that the players always want to improve, and have different challenges and ideas. But I am not worried, because in the end it's always three parts in all the situations in football -- the players, the club that owns the players, and if another club want some players, and in the end it's to be agreed on different things and try to make everyone happy with the decision. We're not worried."

Pep Guardiola's runaway leaders City set a new top-flight record for 15 consecutive wins at Swansea on Wednesday, while breaking Tottenham's record for the best start to a top-flight campaign, which they had held since 1960.

Spurs, however, can take heart from impressive wins over Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool and a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu this season. In those matches, they pragmatically played on the counterattack, defending deeper than usual and finishing all four games with around 35 percent of possession.

Pochettino, though, said Spurs would try to "dominate" City and added that his players' mentality is more important than his team selection or tactics.

"We're going to play in a way that we believe we can win," Pochettino said. "Every manager thinks when they design their strategy to play, it's always the right strategy. It doesn't matter if you put one or another player with different characteristics in the XI, or play with a different shape.

"The most important is the mentality and the ideas you have and try to translate to the players. It's not that we need to be brave -- we need to behave like always, we need to think like always. We can win, we can play, we can enjoy and develop what we want.

"Then, of course, it's about power. It's the opponent that tries to do what they want to do. Then it's about playing and trying to dominate and trying to play in the way that sometimes you can. First of all, our idea is always to try to dominate, play in the way that we want and try to play in the opposite half. And then it's football and anything can happen."

Dan is ESPN FC's Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.

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