Jose Mourinho has challenged Tottenham forward Carlos Vinicius to improve his physicality in order to be a success in the Premier League.
The Benfica loanee scored twice in Thursday’s 4-0 win over Ludogorets in the Europa League, but will be back on the bench for Sunday’s trip to Chelsea.
Since he arrived at the beginning of October, the 25-year-old has been a peripheral figure for Spurs domestically and only appeared once in the league as a late substitute at West Brom.
Yet after Vinicius claimed his first two goals for the club earlier this week, Tottenham manager Mourinho discussed the positive impact of the former Monaco and Napoli player.
“He is not playing a lot, especially in Premier League but he helped us to win the game at West Bromwich and in Europa League he is doing OK and adapting,” Mourinho said.
“Against Ludogorets was good that he scored an important goal. The second one is 75 per cent Dele Alli’s goal, but then in the second half he assists Lucas (Moura) for his goal.
“He is a big boy, a strong boy and needs to be more physical in the Premier League but I am happy.
“It is good for the team to have that because for example last season if Harry Kane needed a rest, we couldn’t and because Vinicius is here, the squad is much more balanced.”
Tottenham will be without defender Toby Alderweireld (groin) and midfielder Erik Lamela (Achilles) for the clash at Stamford Bridge.
Alderweireld’s absence could result in Joe Rodon, who signed from Swansea last month, being handed a full debut even though Davinson Sanchez and Japhet Tanganga helped Spurs keep a clean sheet against Ludogorets.
Winger Steven Bergwijn started Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Manchester City and while Mourinho confirmed the Dutchman – along with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and midfielder Giovani Lo Celso – have “little things” which saw them miss the midweek Europa League tie, all three are expected to feature at Chelsea.
The Portuguese enjoyed huge success during two spells in west London and is well aware of the size of the task at hand on Sunday.
Mourinho told Spurs TV: “It’s always difficult to play Chelsea.
“If I’m not wrong, the last 16 years they won the Premier League five times and they didn’t finish in the Champions League positions only once, so this is a team that is used to playing for titles, lots of players, big investments, great squad.”
Tottenham paid tribute to Diego Maradona on Thursday with a minute’s silence before their home game with Ludogorets.
Premier League teams will also mark Wednesday’s death of the 1986 World Cup winner with players from all 20 clubs wearing black armbands during this gameweek and there will also be a minute’s applause.
Mourinho spoke of his admiration for the Argentine, adding: “Maradona and Diego, Maradona the world knows and the world never forgets.
“I made sure that my son knows a lot about him, even being born after Diego Maradona as a player and I know my son will make sure that one day when he is a father he will not let his kids forget.
“It was similar with my dad and (Alfredo) Di Stefano. I never saw Di Stefano play football, my dad made sure I knew about Di Stefano because with this generation, we have players from my generation and Diego in my generation was what everybody knows.
“Then there is Diego the guy and that one I miss.”