Pochettino wants to RETURN to Tottenham this summer, but PSG have put up a fight.
Tottenham’s pursuit of Mauricio Pochettino has hit two obstacles though they retain hope he could still be tempted back to north London.
Paris Saint-Germain have moved to tighten their grip on Pochettino by triggering an extension to his contract, now tying him to the club until 2023.
Meanwhile long-term admirers Real Madrid have installed Pochettino as their top choice to succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu ahead of club legend Raul and former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
Both developments represent significant hurdles for Spurs to overcome in order to lure Pochettino back following his November 2019 departure.
Talks have been held between Pochettino and Spurs during which he confirmed he would be willing to make a sensational return.
Since then, though, Zidane has left Madrid for a second time with the Frenchman’s departure confirmed last Thursday.
And the strength of Madrid’s subsequent interest has sparked concerns at Spurs that that could be a game-changer in the chase for Pochettino.
Pochettino was in-line to replace Zidane following his first exit from Madrid but they were amazed he was tied into a Spurs deal at the time without a release clause.
He was also sounded out at the end of last year when Zidane’s future was on the line as Madrid struggled to get out of the Champions League group stages.
Madrid are keen to remain on good terms with PSG in the hope they will be first in line if Kylian Mbappe leaves the club.
That means they are committed to not moving for Pochettino unless he leaves PSG or at least goes public with his desire to leave the French giants.
In an open letter explaining his reasons for leaving and which could interest Pochettino, Zidane said: ‘I’m leaving because I feel the club is no longer giving me the trust I need. It isn’t offering me the support to build something medium-to-long term.
‘I’m a born winner and I was here to win trophies but beyond that are human beings, emotions, life and I have the feeling that these things haven’t been valued.’
Following his Spurs exit, Pochettino returned to football in January when he was appointed head coach of PSG where he spent two years as a player.
Pochettino led PSG to two trophies, the French Super Cup and French Cup.
But PSG finished second in Ligue 1 and were knocked out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage by eventual runners up Manchester City.
Pochettino, who replaced Chelsea’s Champions League-winning boss Thomas Tuchel at PSG, signed an initial 18-month deal that ran until June 2022.
That included an option to extend it by a further year which PSG have activated. Sporting director Leonardo said: ‘Mauricio Pochettino has two years left on his contract here at PSG and we are very happy with him.’
Pochettino, though, is unhappy at PSG, with issues behind the scenes central to his discontent.
Extending his contract strengthens PSG’s position in any potential negotiations if they fail to convince Pochettino that his future should be in France as they will now be entitled to a larger sum in compensation.
Spurs have seen a number of potential candidates fall by the wayside in their search for a permanent manager since Jose Mourinho was sacked in April.
Julian Nagelsmann agreed to join Bayern Munich from RB Leipzig and Brendan Rodgers has reiterated his commitment to FA Cup winners Leicester, even after they missed out on the top four on the final day of the season.
Ajax have extended the contract of manager Erik Ten Hag for another year until 2023.
Like Pochettino that does not put Ten Hag totally out of reach, though Dutch sources believe a move to Spurs after adding 12 months to his contract is unlikely.
Graham Potter, another manager of interest, is happy at Brighton. Antonio Conte is also another possible option for Spurs, as well as Real Madrid, and is out of work after leaving Inter Milan next week.
Though Pochettino would tick all the boxes for chairman Daniel Levy and technical performance director Steve Hitchen as a crowd-pleasing marquee name who would also develop young players and play attacking football.
As well as the identity of their next manager, the futures of a number of their squad remain uncertain primarily talisman Harry Kane.
He has communicated his desire to leave amid interest from Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Though Levy is ready to frustrate his star striker and has shown little interest in even discussing a possible sale knowing Kane has limited leverage to force an exit.
Kane still has three years left on his current contract, a six-year agreement signed in 2018, with no buyout fee or clauses that would increase his chances of leaving.
Tottenham are, though, open to offers for right-back Serge Aurier, who is keen on a move to PSG.
Meanwhile they are frontrunners to land defender Joachim Andersen who impressed in the Premier League while on loan at Fulham from Lyon.