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Daily Star - - SERIOUSLY FOOTBALL - By DAR­REN LEWIS

MAURICIO PO­CHET­TINO be­lieves English foot­ball does not fully ap­pre­ci­ate “killer” Harry Kane.

The Tot­ten­ham boss fears this coun­try is too will­ing to build its stars up, only to knock them down. And Po­chet­tino reck­ons his star striker would be far more cel­e­brated if he were Ital­ian or Span­ish.

Ahead of this evening’s trip to Crys­tal Palace Po­chet­tino said: “In Eng­land you have some very good things but there are things you need to im­prove with your own play­ers.

“Kane is English and some­times you push him to the sky and par­adise and then you put him on the out­side.

“Now, af­ter six years here, I un­der­stand a lit­tle bit. If Harry Kane is Ital­ian and play­ing for the Ital­ian side he will be a bit more pro­tected be­cause the

Ital­ian peo­ple are more pro­tec­tive of their play­ers.

“When they are at the top they try to keep them up there.

It’s sim­i­lar to Spain.

Here it is more up and down.

“You score, you are the best. If you didn’t score, you’re crit­i­cised.

It’s an ob­ser­va­tion. That is the prob­lem.”

Po­chet­tino’s com­ments come af­ter Eng­land head coach

Gareth South­gate voiced his con­cern at the “strange coun­try” where plans to salute Wayne Rooney have been crit­i­cised.

Asked whether Kane is now ex­ceed­ing even his ex­pec­ta­tions, Po­chet­tino added: “No, be­cause I know him very well.

“He is a killer, an as­sas­sin. He wants to kill the keeper. He wants to score, he is so de­ter­mined to score goals.”

Kane spear­heads the Spurs at­tack to­day, four days af­ter sav­ing his club’s Cham­pi­ons League life against PSV at Wem­b­ley.

It is a res­cue act fans are fa­mil­iar with. Last sea­son at Sel­hurst Park Kane also had the Tot­ten­ham sup­port­ers breath­ing a sigh of re­lief with an 88th-minute win­ner.

The Eng­land cap­tain has more than lived up to his world-class cre­den­tials, with Po­chet­tino in­sist­ing that his com­par­i­son last sea­son with leg­endary marks­man Gabriel Batis­tuta (in­set) has been more than jus­ti­fied.

Batis­tuta was Ar­gentina’s all-time lead­ing scorer with 54 goals in 77 of­fi­cial matches un­til two years ago, when he was sur­passed by Li­onel Messi.

His 10 goals in three World Cups also made him Ar­gentina’s all-time top scorer in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Po­chet­tino added: “I com­pared Kane be­cause his men­tal­ity is sim­i­lar to that of Batis­tuta.

“Then, of course, maybe Harry Kane is go­ing to im­prove on his stats.

“But for me Harry can be, or is – de­pend­ing on the peo­ple around him – of a sim­i­lar men­tal­ity to Batis­tuta.

“I know Batis­tuta very well. He was my team-mate. And I know Harry Kane.

“They are of a sim­i­lar mind and fo­cus and de­ter­mi­na­tion.”

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