Claudio Ranieri tried to sign Mauricio Pochettino as a player whilst manager of Atletico Madrid

Claudio Ranieri and Mauricio Pochettino saw their Leicester and Tottenham sides draw 2-2 on Sunday
Image: Claudio Ranieri and Mauricio Pochettino saw their Leicester and Tottenham sides draw 2-2 on Sunday

Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino have reminisced about the time the Italian tried to sign the Argentinian whilst manager of Atletico Madrid.

Ranieri, in charge at the Vicente Calderon for the 1999-2000 season, was on the verge of signing Pochettino during his prime as a right-back, but the deal fell through because of financial difficulties.

Leicester clash with Pochettino's Tottenham for a second time inside four days at White Hart Lane on Wednesday, this time in the Premier League following their 2-2 draw in the FA Cup third round on Sunday.

Ranieri says he always respected the former Argentina international as a player but Pochettino says he had a lucky escape.

Ranieri confirmed: "I did try to sign him when I was the manager at Atletico Madrid. I always liked him as a player.

"I was very, very close but there was a little problem with our money at Atletico so it wasn't possible. He was a player I always admired, a very good player."

Pochettino said: "We spoke a little bit about that on the touchline on Sunday for two or three minutes before the start of the game.

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Claudio Ranieri and Mauricio Pochettino must do it all again in the Premier League on Wednesday
Image: Ranieri and Pochettino must do it all again in the Premier League on Wednesday

"He said I was lucky because it was the year Atletico went down. The deal was done and I had agreed to go but there wasn't the money - it was impossible to pay because there was a takeover at the club.

"It was lucky. He tried to sign me."

Fourth-placed Spurs will look to close the gap on second-place Leicester to one point in what is expected to be a fierce clash of two top-four favourites.

And Ranieri said: "A lot of teams are fighting to build for the top four - not only Tottenham.

"It;s a good revolution in the Premier League - you don't just have the normal four. It doesn't make it easy but we are confident in our policy, and the owner wants to arrive at the top."

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