Former Arsenal star Per Mertesacker has advised Tottenham to not pick Harry Kane for Saturday’s Champions League final against Liverpool.
Spurs named a recovered Kane in the squad that will travel to Madrid this weekend despite his lengthy absence from competitive action.
The English striker had been sidelined since April 9 due to an ankle injury. In that time, Spurs have overcome Manchester City and Ajax to reach the Champions League final and sealed a Premier League top-four finish.
Although Mauricio Pochettino’s side did suffer five defeats and win just three times in their nine matches without Kane.
Furthermore, Spurs’ recent track record against Liverpool shows they’ve lost four of their last six encounters. Two of those defeats came in the Premier League this season.
Therefore, the head coach Pochettino has a difficult decision to make on whether to start Kane or stick with the same line-up that took the club to the final.
“It was definitely thanks to the whole team that they reached the final. Suddenly you had Heung-min Son being on fire when Harry Kane was out. He scored a lot of goals,” Mertesacker told DAZN.
“Then there was Lucas Moura scoring a hat-trick [against Ajax in the semi-finals]. They gave players space for development and they took the next step.
“Now Harry Kane comes back and the coach has to ask himself what to do. It really is a difficult decision.
“I would keep the things which have worked out in the last games and change not too much as the players have deserved it.”
Asked if Pochettino should leave Kane out of the line-up, Mertesacker replied: “Yes… If I were the coach I would do that.
“Yes, I think it will be a huge task for Tottenham to win against Liverpool. Because they learnt a lot last year and that often leads to a situation you can capitalise on the next year.
“So I hope Tottenham come well prepared. They have to use their chances, especially at the beginning of the game.
“I think Tottenham can only win if they have a good start, if they are able to put pressure on Liverpool, get an early lead and play using counter-attacks.
“Then I see a chance for Tottenham. Apart from that, I see Liverpool being the favourites.”
The 2019 Champions League final between Spurs and Liverpool will take place at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano. Kick-off will begin at 21:00 (CET) on Saturday.