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Tottenham's Son Heung-Min deserves more credit for form - Pochettino

The ESPN FC panel engage in a heated debate about whether 2017 belonged to Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah or Harry Kane.
The FC crew react to the 2017 Premier League team of the year, as selected by ESPN FC's Mark Ogden.

LONDON -- Mauricio Pochettino has said that Son Heung-Min does not get the credit he deserves for his performances for Tottenham Hotspur.

Pochettino likened Son to a teammate of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo and said the South Korean would get more recognition if he was not playing next to a superstar in Harry Kane.

Son has five goals and three assists since the start of December but Kane's record-breaking end to 2017 -- in which he scored back-to-back hat tricks to finish the year as the highest scorer in elite European football -- has overshadowed his teammate's fine form.

"He is so important for us," Pochettino said of Son. "He is scoring a lot of goals and he is very consistent in training and in his performances. I think he is a very good player for us.

"It is true that maybe he doesn't get the headlines of Harry and other players but it is good to recognise him. He is a great guy and a very good professional. He is always there and he scores a lot of goals.

"Us, the coaching staff, give him the credit that he deserves. I think last season he was very important. It's like a player next to Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo that deserve a lot of credit. When you are next to Harry Kane, who scores and scores, and all that he achieves it is normal that the focus is more on Harry Kane or on Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo than Son.

"But all the team love him. Not only because of his performances but because of how he is as a man."

Son Heung-Min scored five goals and claimed three assists for Tottenham in December.

Son is one of the biggest stars in South Korea, where he is a celebrity comparable to David Beckham. But Pochettino added: "When we talk about Beckham, he is a massive icon in the world. Maybe Son is like this but here he is so humble and such a normal guy, and that makes him bigger!"

Kane was ill at the end of last week and Pochettino may decide not to risk the striker in Tuesday's match at bottom club Swansea, particularly with a London derby against West Ham two days later.

If Kane is rested, Son could deputise up front because he is sharper than back-up striker Fernando Llorente who has played seven minutes of football since Dec. 6.

It was suggested to Pochettino that Kane's relentless form and fitness made it impossible for a specialist back-up striker, like Llorente, to be a success.

"It is not a problem to have. You present it as a difficult situation but when you have Harry Kane it is not a problem," the Spurs manager replied.

"Harry plays because he deserves to play, he is fit and is professional. At other clubs, [Liverpool's Mohamed] Salah plays always, or Firmino, and Solanke or Sturridge don't play too much.

"When you have a striker like Harry Kane it is a special position like a keeper and you can only play with one keeper. OK, you can play with more than one striker but when you have Harry Kane it is difficult to say to him, 'You are not playing.'

"But I am happy with people like Sonny, who is not a specialist. He is not a striker but he can play like a striker. He is not a winger but can play on the wing. He is not a No. 10 who plays in the pockets but can play there. That is the good thing in the squad."

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

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