Paris Saint-Germain are adamant that Mauricio Pochettino will not be allowed to leave the club before the end of this season.
Senior PSG sources deny there has been an approach from Manchester United for their head coach but they are aware that he is interested in succeeding Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
There is tension between Pochettino and PSG’s sporting director Leonardo while the Argentine has complained at the lack of control he has at the French giants. It is understood Pochettino wants to be regarded as a manager rather than a head coach and would demand such a role at his next club.
PSG face Manchester City in the Champions League on Wednesday evening and will try to discover Pochettino’s intentions after the tie. They insist that despite being unsettled the 49-year-old has not – yet – informed them that he wants to quit the club now and return to the Premier League.
Pochettino professed himself content at PSG in his pre-match press conference but he also chose his words carefully and did not rule out making a move to United.
PSG believe it would be damaging for a club of its stature and ambitions – winning the Champions League this season is their goal – to lose their coach mid-way through a campaign.
Interestingly, though, it appears they would be willing to enter into negotiations at the end of the campaign even though Pochettino would still have another year left on his contract.
An extension until June 2024 was triggered last summer amid interest from Tottenham Hotspur in taking Pochettino back. It is understood he wanted to return to Spurs.
PSG are also aware that former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane would be interested in taking over from Pochettino when he eventually leaves. Zidane has also been linked with the United job but it is understood his preference would be PSG unless the French national team job became available before then. Zidane has no qualms about joining PSG despite his strong ties with his hometown club, Marseille, and is enthusiastic about coaching a team full of stars.
There is surprise that Pochettino is still living in a hotel in Paris, despite having joined PSG in January, although he is popular among staff at the club.
It remains to be seen whether United make an official approach in the coming days and – almost more importantly – whether Pochettino is prepared to try and force the move. That would be a dangerous tactic given PSG’s determination not to lose face although would they also want to keep an unhappy manager?
It means United have to also push ahead with their original plan to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season after which – as things stand – Pochettino would potentially be available. They have held talks with former Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde and are working their way through a shortlist.