Tottenham’s hunt for Mauricio Pochettino has struck two hurdles, although they hold out hopes that he may still be tempted to return to north London.
Paris Saint-Germain have moved to get a better grip on Pochettino by activating a contract extension, which means he is now tied to the club until 2023.
Meanwhile, longtime Real Madrid admirers have installed Pochettino as their first choice to succeed Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu, ahead of club legend Raul and former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.
Tottenham continue to hope Mauricio Pochettino may be tempted to return to north London
Paris Saint-Germain have moved to get a better grip on Pochettino by securing a contract extension until 2023.
Both developments pose significant hurdles for Spurs to overcome in order to lure Pochettino back after his departure in November 2019.
Talks have been held between Pochettino and Spurs in which he confirmed he would be ready to make a sensational return.
Since then, however, Zidane has left Madrid for the second time, with the Frenchman’s departure confirmed last Thursday.
And the strength of Madrid’s subsequent interest has raised concerns for Spurs that could be a game-changer in the hunt for Pochettino.
Real Madrid have installed Pochettino as their top pick to succeed Zinedine Zidane (above)
Pochettino lined up to replace Zidane after his first departure from Madrid, but they were surprised that he was locked into a contract with Spurs at the time without an escape clause.
He was also polled late last year when Zidane’s future was at stake as Madrid struggled to get out of the Champions League group stage.
Madrid are keen to remain on good terms with PSG in the hopes that they will be first in line if Kylian Mbappe leaves the club.
That means they are determined not to move to Pochettino unless he leaves PSG or at least goes out with his desire to leave the French giants.
Both developments pose hurdles for Spurs to overcome in order to lure him back after his departure in November 2019
In an open letter explaining why he is leaving and which might interest Pochettino, Zidane said: “I am leaving because I feel the club no longer gives me the confidence I need. It doesn’t give me the support to build anything in the medium to long term.
“I’m a born winner and I was here to win trophies, but out there is people, emotions, life and I feel like these things aren’t valued.”
After leaving Spurs, Pochettino returned to football in January when he was appointed PSG head coach, where he spent two years as a player.
Pochettino led PSG to two trophies, the French Super Cup and the French Cup.
But PSG finished second in Ligue 1 and were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual runner-up Manchester City.
Pochettino led PSG to two trophies in 2020-21, the French Supercup and the French Cup (above)
Pochettino, who replaced Chelsea’s Champions League-winning boss Thomas Tuchel at PSG, signed an initial 18-month contract that runs until June 2022.
That included an option to extend it for another year, which PSG has 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 is unhappy at PSG, however, with behind-the-scenes issues at the heart of his discontent.
The extension of his contract strengthens PSG’s position in any negotiations if they fail to convince Pochettino that his future should be in France, as they are now entitled to greater compensation.
Leonardo (right) said Pochettino has two years to go and they are very happy with him
Spurs have seen a number of potential candidates drop out in their search for a permanent manager since Jose Mourinho was sacked in April.
Julian Nagelsmann has agreed to join Bayern Munich from RB Leipzig and Brendan Rodgers has reiterated his commitment to FA Cup winners Leicester even after missing out on the top four on the final day of the season.
Ajax has extended the contract of manager Erik Ten Hag for another year until 2023.
Like Pochettino, that doesn’t put Ten Hag completely out of reach, although Dutch sources think a move to Spurs after adding 12 months to his contract is unlikely.
Spurs have seen Erik ten Hag (left) and Julian Nagelsmann (right) chases fall apart
Graham Potter, another interesting manager, is happy at Brighton. Antonio Conte is also another possible option for Spurs, as well as Real Madrid, and will be 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 name who would also develop young players and play attacking football.
Besides the identities of their next manager, the future of some of their team remains uncertain, most notably talisman Harry Kane.
He has communicated his wish to leave amid interest from Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
Graham Potter (right) is happy in Brighton, but Antonio Conte (left) is another option too
While Levy is ready to frustrate his star striker and has shown little interest in even discussing a potential sale, knowing that Kane has limited leverage to force an exit.
Kane has three years left on his current contract, a six-year deal signed in 2018, with no transfer fee or clauses that would increase his chances of leaving.
However, Tottenham are open to offers for right-back Serge Aurier, who are keen to move to PSG.
Meanwhile, they are frontrunners for country defender Joachim Andersen, who impressed in the Premier League while on loan to Fulham from Lyon.
Future of some Spurs squad remains uncertain, especially talisman Harry Kane