Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has claimed Roberto Soldado remains in his plans ahead of the new campaign despite the Spanish striker being heavily linked with a return to his homeland in recent days.
The former Real Madrid and Valencia striker moved to White Hart Lane in the summer of 2013 after Spurs agreed to meet his £26m ($40m) release clause at Valencia as part of the overhaul that followed Gareth Bale's departure to the Santiago Bernabeu. But having since struggled to make the impact expected in the Premier League, his future at the north London club has been under increasing scrutiny in recent times.
Pochettino sparked the rumour after leaving him out the 25-man squad for the pre-season friendly against the Major League Soccer (MLS) All-Stars on 30 July – alongside other out of favour players such as Emmanuel Adebayor and Vlad Chiriches, who later joined Napoli.
Villarreal boss Marcelino Garcia Toral recently told IBTimes UK he was likely to bring Soldado back to La Liga but suggested reaching a deal with Tottenham Hotspur would not be easy, as they cannot afford to pay something close to the £26m Spurs paid to Valencia to secure his services two summers ago.
"It is very difficult [to sign Soldado]. He is currently in a great team and just two seasons ago they paid a high fee to sign him. It is a difficult situation," Toral said.
But the Daily Mirror recently reported that the north London club are indeed ready to take a huge loss by accepting his departure this summer for as low as £11m after having already opened talks with the La Liga side.
Pochettino, however, has now claimed the striker is in his plans ahead of the new season and he does not expect him to move anywhere during the current transfer window. "I can't confirm [whether Villarreal are interested in Soldado]. He is our player and he is in our plans for the new season," the manager was quoted by AS during a press conference ahead of the Tottenham game against Real Madrid on 4 August.