Tottenham Hotspur

Juan Foyth opens up on Jose Mourinho, Giovani Lo Celso 'exploding' & fighting the 'Welsh Mafia'

By Sean Walsh
Foyth is currently on loan at Villarreal
Foyth is currently on loan at Villarreal / James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Exclusive - Argentina defender Juan Foyth has claimed that under-fire Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho is 'very close' to the Spurs squad and reaffirmed that he is still a 'special' manager.

Foyth joined Tottenham in 2017 from Estudiantes and was slowly integrated into the squad under Mauricio Pochettino, and was expected to head into the 2019/20 season as Spurs' first choice right-back.

However, Foyth suffered an injury in pre-season and didn't return until Mourinho arrived as head coach. Despite early signs that he could play a part under the Portuguese, he didn't feature for Spurs again after being at fault for a goal in a 2-2 draw with Norwich in December 2019.

The Argentina international, who joined Villarreal on loan for the 2020/21 season last summer, spoke to 90min.es about his time under Mourinho.

When asked why Mourinho is called 'the special one', Foyth said: "He can be called however he wants, however he wants to call himself, because he's won everything.

"I think he is special in the way he declares it, right? He is a bit special."

Jose Mourinho
Mourinho is under pressure to turn Spurs' season around / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Mourinho has come in for heavy criticism for Spurs' disappointing season so far, and was quick to pass blame onto the players following Sunday's 2-2 draw with Newcastle.

But Foyth insisted that Mourinho has a close bond with the squad and an open line of communication.

"The truth is that when you see him at the press conferences, he tells you [what he thinks] himself," he said.

"I think in the Tottenham [Amazon Prime] documentary he said it, that everyone thinks that he is a bad person, that he always wants to fight. But no, the truth is that with the group, he is very close to the group.

"He talks a lot with all the players. It was a surprise to me when he arrived. Because of course, we would all watch the press conferences and say 'uh, not this'. But the truth is that he is a very good person."

Giovani Lo Celso, Erik Lamela
Foyth remains close with Giovani Lo Celso and Erik Lamela / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Foyth maintains a strong relationship with Spurs' current Argentine duo Erik Lamela and Giovani Lo Celso, and believes the latter is the engine of the team.

"For me, he [Lo Celso] already exploded last year," he said. "When Mourinho arrived he did not start playing, but after it was impossible to take him out because he was the engine of the team, the one who ran the most, the one who asked for the ball the most.

"I remember a game we were talking to Eric Dier on the bench and he told me, 'I can't believe he [Lo Celso] doesn't play for Real Madrid or Barcelona'."

Following Foyth's departure, Spurs brought back Gareth Bale on loan and signed Joe Rodon. Alongside Ben Davies, the trio have become known as the 'Welsh Mafia'.

However, Foyth backed himself and Tottenham's other Argentines to beat Spurs' Welsh contingent in a fight - largely due to Lamela's mentality.

"We would beat them," he joked.

"Apart from the fact that Coco [Lamela] goes looking for it. Do you know how up for it he is? Forget about it.

"[He is] very hard. When he gets angry, he goes looking for it like crazy. He has offered to fight me a couple of times! Obviously in training and that, heat of the moment, I'm not the only one."

"Off the pitch yeah, we have a great relationship, we're friends."

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