Mauricio Pochettino is back in management. Over a year after leaving Tottenham, the Argentine coach has landed one of Europe's biggest jobs.

Paris Saint-Germain appointed Pochettino as Thomas Tuchel's replacement on Saturday, and the new boss is sure to have ideas about players he would like to join him.

PSG have been hit by a run of injuries this season, with Neymar currently sidelined with an ankle problem.

Their owners are no strangers to big-money purchases, though the coronavirus pandemic has made all of Europe's big clubs take stock and rein in their spending.

But who could be the likely candidates to join PSG under Pochettino?

Christian Eriksen

Eriksen played some stellar stuff at Tottenham under Pochettino. Indeed, in 191 Premier League appearances during the Argentinian's tenure, the former Ajax prodigy scored 43 times and provided 53 assists.

A set-piece specialist, it is somewhat surprising that only six of Eriksen's goals came directly from free-kicks, from 99 attempts.

He created 493 chances, with 64 of these counting as big opportunities, while he averaged a goal every 370 minutes and hit the woodwork on 17 occasions.

However, even in the latter days of Pochettino's time at Spurs, Eriksen was making noises about wanting to leave and, with six months remaining on his deal, he was sold to Inter last January.

It is a move which has far from paid off, and Eriksen has made just 12 Serie A starts for Antonio Conte's team. In December, Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta confirmed the Denmark international had been placed on the transfer list.

"I can confirm that Christian Eriksen is on the transfer list," Marotta told Sky Sport Italy. "He's going to leave in January. He's not functional to our plans and he had difficulty here at Inter. I think it's right that Christian goes away to find more space."

PSG had been tentatively linked with him prior to Pochettino's arrival, and a reunion with his former manager could be just the tonic for Eriksen.

Dele Alli

Another player who had been mooted as a target for PSG is Eriksen's former Spurs team-mate Alli.

Having signed from MK Dons in 2015, Alli transformed into a Premier League sensation and England regular under Pochettino's guidance.

He made 123 league starts for Pochettino, averaging a goal every 243 minutes, scoring 44 times in total and creating 203 chances, including 29 assists.

Despite a bright start under Pochettino's replacement Jose Mourinho, Alli has been out in the cold this season, starting just one league game – on the opening weekend, in a defeat to Everton – and scoring just two goals, both of them coming in the Europa League.

With a place in England's squad for next year's European Championship looking doubtful, Alli may well be on the move next month, and linking up with Pochettino would surely help revive his career.

Alli said in 2017 that he saw the coach as a father figure.

Lionel Messi

Former Espanyol defender and manager Pochettino recalled in 2018 that Messi was agonisingly close to joining Barcelona's cross-city rivals in 2005, only for a suggested loan move to break down.

Messi has gone on to win six Ballons d'Or, 34 major trophies and even surpass Pele's haul of 643 goals at a single club, as well as set countless other records.

Pochettino has made no secret of a desire to work with his compatriot. At PSG, the stars may finally align.

Messi reluctantly elected to stay at Barca for this season and see out the remainder of his contract, but he is set to become a free agent at the end of the campaign, assuming the new president cannot persuade him to sign a new deal.

Any deal would be far from cheap, but with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on board, the lure of Paris and Pochettino could be decisive for Messi.

A Blaugrana legend, Messi could lead PSG's push for Champions League glory and prove he is far from close to the end of his career – much like the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo has done at Juventus, albeit without a European crown so far.

A front three of Neymar, Mbappe and Messi would set Europe alight, and perhaps finally earn Pochettino the success his work has deserved.

New Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino says he is honoured to take charge of "some of the world's most talented players".

The former Tottenham boss signed a contract until June 2022, which includes an option for a further year, with the Ligue 1 champions on Saturday.

Pochettino replaces Thomas Tuchel, whose dismissal was finally confirmed on Tuesday after reports of his sacking initially emerged on Christmas Eve.

After his appointment was confirmed, Pochettino discussed his pride and ambition after returning to the club he played for between 2001 and 2003.

The prospect of managing the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe was one about which he was already excited.

"I am really happy and honoured to become the new coach of Paris Saint-Germain," Pochettino, 48, told his new club's website

"I would like to thank the club's management for the trust they have placed in me. 

"As you know, this club has always held a special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories, especially of the unique atmosphere of the Parc des Princes. 

"I return to the club today with a lot of ambition and humility, and am eager to work with some of the world's most talented players. 

"This team has fantastic potential and my staff and I will do everything we can to get the best for Paris Saint-Germain in all competitions. 

"We will also do our utmost to give our team the combative and attacking playing identity that Parisian fans have always loved."

PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi felt the appointment meant Pochettino had returned to his footballing home.

"We are very pleased to welcome Mauricio Pochettino as first team coach," he said.

"I am proud to see our former captain returning to Paris Saint-Germain, as the club has always remained his home. 

"The return of Mauricio fits perfectly with our ambitions and it will be another exciting chapter for the club and one I am positive the fans will enjoy. 

"With the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino, Paris Saint-Germain is committed to continue to build and move the club forward over the coming years."

Pochettino, previously linked with the Real Madrid and Manchester United jobs, was sacked by Spurs in November last year after five impressive years in charge in north London.

Although he failed to win a trophy, he turned Spurs into regular top-four contenders and Premier League title hopefuls, while taking them to the Champions League final in 2019, where they lost to Liverpool.

Tuchel was sacked after an inconsistent start to the 2020-21 season despite having guided PSG to their first Champions League final in August, where they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

PSG are third in Ligue 1, one point behind leaders Lyon, while Barcelona will be their last-16 opponents in the Champions League next month.

Pochettino's first game in charge will be on Wednesday, when PSG play away to Saint-Etienne in the league.

Paris Saint-Germain have appointed Mauricio Pochettino as their new head coach.

The former Tottenham boss has signed a contract until June 2022, with the option for a further year, with the Ligue 1 champions. He will replace Thomas Tuchel, whose dismissal was finally confirmed on Tuesday after days of speculation.

The German was sacked after an inconsistent start to the 2020-21 season despite having guided PSG to their first Champions League final in August, where they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

Defeats in this season's group stage to Manchester United and RB Leipzig had put Tuchel under pressure, although he was able to lead his side into the last 16 after winning their final three games.

However, there were suggestions PSG's hierarchy had concerns about Tuchel's ability to guide his team past Barcelona in the knockout phase.

Four defeats in 17 Ligue 1 matches, leaving PSG a point behind leaders Lyon, also counted against Tuchel, while a public spat with sporting director Leonardo over transfers appeared to weaken his position further.

Pochettino, previously linked with the Real Madrid and Manchester United jobs, was sacked by Spurs in November last year after five impressive years in charge in north London.

Although he failed to win a trophy, the former Espanyol and Southampton boss turned Spurs into regular top-four contenders and Premier League title hopefuls, while he took them to the Champions League final in 2019, where they lost to Liverpool.

After taking charge in 2014, Pochettino led Spurs to four top-four finishes in five full seasons, twice the number they managed in their previous 22 Premier League campaigns.

He reached 100 wins in the competition in 197 games, the sixth quickest in history alongside Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish.

However, Spurs' domestic form suffered badly in 2019 as they tallied 18 defeats in all competitions from January 1 to November 19, when Pochettino was dismissed.

Pochettino has won admirers throughout his coaching career for getting his teams to adopt high-pressing and attacking football, qualities which have become demands of PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi in recent seasons.

When Tuchel was appointed in 2018, Al-Khelaifi said: "He abides by very strong principles of playing spectacular and clinical football that has always been the foundation of German football, especially on the international scene.

"His competitive spirit, his preference for attacking football and his strong character are in line with what we have always wanted for PSG - this style that our loyal supporters have always demanded and admired."

Paris Saint-Germain have used the mid-season break to replace Thomas Tuchel with Mauricio Pochettino, and the new head coach has some big issues to contend with.

A 4-0 win over Strasbourg before the mid-season break was not enough to spare Tuchel, who was relieved of his duties after two and a half years at the helm.

Tuchel left PSG having won six trophies in the French capital, while also taking the club to the brink of a long-awaited Champions League success last term.

PSG ultimately came up short, going down 1-0 to a dominant Bayern Munich in the final.

Tuchel remained in place for the new season but was only been able to guide the club to third in Ligue 1, with the Parisians losing four of their 17 matches.

Pochettino spent over two years with PSG in his playing days and was picked to take over the reins at the Parc des Princes, signing a contract until June 2022 with an option for a further year.

Here are the major issues Pochettino must contend with.

 

ASSERT LIGUE 1 DOMINANCE

While the Champions League is clearly the be-all and end-all for PSG's Qatari owners, the bedrock of their success is domestic supremacy.

Over the past eight seasons, PSG have only failed to win the Ligue 1 title once – during Unai Emery's first season in charge, when a Kylian Mbappe-inspired Monaco charged to glory.

Tuchel had little trouble in claiming back-to-back championships, albeit last season's Ligue 1 campaign was curtailed in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, with the congested nature of 2020-21 making life tough for all of Europe's biggest teams, PSG find themselves point behind joint-leaders Lille and Lyon, the latter of whom recently claimed their first league win at Parc des Princes since 2007.

It is hardly an unassailable gap, though the first task for PSG's new head coach will be to return to the top of the pile, while defending their Coupe de France crown will also provide another chance for a trophy.

SECURE THAT ALL-IMPORTANT CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ultimately, any coach at PSG is judged on their success – or lack thereof – in Europe.

Tuchel pushed PSG further than any other coach has in the Champions League since Qatar Sports Investments' takeover, but it was still not enough to stop Hansi Flick's Bayern completing an incredible treble.

PSG were inconsistent in this season's condensed group stage, losing at home to Manchester United and away to RB Leipzig, before a 3-1 win at Old Trafford and a 5-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir secured their place in the knockout stages.

Ronald Koeman's iffy Barcelona team await in the last 16, and there has arguably never been a better time to face the Catalan giants in Europe – although Bayern's 8-2 rout back in August may suggest differently.

Crucial to any push for silverware in UEFA's elite club competition will be getting the best out of Neymar and Mbappe. The latter missed some big chances in last season's final, and only against Basaksehir did he end a year-long run without a Champions League goal (nine games).

KEEP NEYMAR AND MBAPPE, AND THROW IN MESSI FOR GOOD MEASURE

PSG's sporting director Leonardo has confirmed contract discussions are underway with Neymar and Mbappe.

France star Mbappe has already scored 104 times across all competitions for PSG, though Real Madrid and Barca have regularly been touted as suitors – then again, which of Europe's elite clubs would not want the 22-year-old in their ranks?

Neymar, meanwhile, has consistently been linked with a move back to Barca, but that transfer is looking increasingly unlikely.

Indeed, the prospect of the Brazil superstar linking up with Lionel Messi once more seems much more likely to occur in Paris than at Camp Nou.

Messi begrudgingly decided to stay and see out the remaining year of his Barca contract but has started to hit better form again – he has scored six times in his past eight league games to surpass Pele's record of 643 goals for one club.

Koeman believes Messi is happy at Barca, but as it stands the 33-year-old is set to become the most highly sought-after free agent in history at the end of 2020-21.

While it was Manchester City and Pep Guardiola who were credited as frontrunners in the close season, PSG's owners certainly have the ambition – and funds – to make a transfer come to fruition, and it may well be down to the coach to swing Messi towards Paris, rather than the Premier League or a Barca extension.

Pochettino has previously spoken of his desire to work alongside his compatriot, and it may well be a perfect match.

A sliding doors moment kept Mauricio Pochettino and Lionel Messi apart in 2005. But 15 years later, their paths could well realign at Paris Saint-Germain.

Back when Messi was in the embryonic stages of a Barcelona career that has seen him win six Ballons d'Or, 34 trophies and score a world record 644 goals for a single club, a temporary switch to cross-town rivals Espanyol was mooted.

There he would have linked up with an uncompromising defender by the name of Pochettino, and the subsequent decade and a half could have turned out very differently.

"I remember that summer, he was so close to moving to Espanyol," Pochettino said ahead of Tottenham facing Messi's Barcelona at Wembley in a Champions League clash in October 2018.

"If he did, maybe he could have been the biggest star in Espanyol. We should be the Barcelona! He would have been my team-mate and maybe I would still be in Espanyol managing him."

It only would have been a loan move, but an 18-year-old Messi convinced Barca he was ready for a more prominent role in the team by producing a stunning display in a victory over Juventus in the Joan Gamper Trophy.

Fabio Capello was in the opposition dugout at Camp Nou and after 25 awestruck minutes, he approached his counterpart Frank Rijkaard to ask if he could take the Argentine wonderkid on a temporary deal.

Barca finally realised they had a generational talent on their hands and opted against letting him go.

"I'd started to hear about Messi when I was an Espanyol player – this small guy playing in the Barcelona academy, who had arrived from Argentina when he was 13," Pochettino said.

"And then I heard he was very close to signing for Espanyol. But because he was so fantastic in the Joan Gamper against Juventus and Fabio Capello praised him afterwards in the press conference, Barcelona changed their minds. They kept Messi at Barcelona."

2030 vision

Messi began his youth career with Newell's Old Boys in 1994 – the same year Pochettino left the club for his first stint with Espanyol – and has often been linked with a return to the Rosario side to end his playing career.

Pochettino has been out of work since being sacked by Tottenham in November 2019 and was reportedly approached by Barcelona to replace Ernesto Valverde two months later, but his request for more time to consider the offer due to his loyalties to Espanyol resulted in Quique Setien getting the job instead.

Still, Pochettino retained hope that he will still have an opportunity to join forces Messi.

"I want to return to Newell's with Messi," he told Radio del Plata last March. "I can still wait, [for an opportunity] and the best [possible scenario] would be in 10 years with Messi."

But with PSG's decision-makers showing minimal festive cheers by firing Thomas Tuchel on Tuesday, Pochettino has been gifted a potential opportunity to work with Messi far sooner.

Pochettino was on Saturday named as the successor to Tuchel. Sporting director Leonardo and president Nasser Al Khelaifi will no doubt hope his appointment helps tempt Messi to forego a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and relocate to Paris when his Barcelona contract expires at the end of the season.

"He's one of the gods of football"

Pochettino may not have won a trophy with Tottenham, but he led them to four straight top-four finishes in the Premier League.

His crowning achievement was steering them to the 2019 Champions League final, which ended in a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

Spurs finished behind Barcelona in the group stage that season. Messi scored a double in a 4-2 win for the Blaugrana at Wembley, while a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou saw Pochettino's men edge Inter to the runners-up spot in Group B.

After Spurs lost the first leg of their semi-final to Ajax 1-0, Pochettino urged his team to play like Messi during the second leg in order to have another chance of taking on the Barcelona captain in the final.

"He's one of the gods of football. It's unbelievable, it's unbelievable. It's unbelievable, the desire and the capacity to fight with the ball at his feet, to fight without the ball at his feet," said Pochettino.

"What happens when he touches the ball? When he doesn't have the ball, it's unbelievable the character, how he presses, how he works for the team. If we play like him, for sure we are going to have a chance. Of course.

"But not like him doing what he does with the ball. If we play like him without the ball, with the desire that he showed, for sure we are going to have a chance to qualify for the final. If not no chance."

Should Pochettino's desire to work with "one of the gods of football" at long last become reality, together they will be expected to help PSG finally conquer their Mount Olympus: winning the Champions League.

Paris Saint-Germain have appointed Mauricio Pochettino as their new head coach.

 

Real Madrid are reportedly close to agreeing a deal with David Alaba, while Manchester United are expecting the asking price for Jadon Sancho to drop.

Alaba, 28, is set to leave Bayern Munich with his contract expiring at the end of the season.

The defender is free to speak to other clubs, and Madrid are making their move.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID CLOSE TO ALABA SIGNING

Real Madrid are close to landing Bayern Munich defender Alaba on a four-year deal, according to Marca.

Alaba is likely to have offers from multiple clubs after establishing himself as one of Europe's leading defenders.

The Austria international has won nine Bundesliga titles and two Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies with Bayern.

 

ROUND-UP

- With Jadon Sancho yet to hit top form for Borussia Dortmund this season, Manchester United may be able to land the attacker later this year. 90min reports United believe they can land Sancho for less than £100million (€112.7m) after not meeting Dortmund's valuation of £107m (€120m) in the close season.

- Lionel Messi's future remains a major talking point. Sport reports the Barcelona star – who is out of contract at the end of the campaign – will wait until the end of the season to decide between the LaLiga giants, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and MLS.

- Real Madrid are apparently eyeing a replacement for Marcelo. AS reports the LaLiga giants are tracking Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes, who is also linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Juventus and PSG.

- Liverpool are also linked with centre-backs after long-term injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, while potential exits have been mentioned. However, the Liverpool Echo reports the Premier League giants are not expecting any senior departures in January, which would mean Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi remain despite speculation over their futures.

Manchester City are reportedly planning a bid for Harry Kane, while United are still interested in Jack Grealish.

City have been linked with numerous forwards amid uncertainty over Sergio Aguero's future.

And it seems the Tottenham star is among their targets.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY PLANNING £88.7M BID FOR KANE

Manchester City are planning an £88.7million offer for Tottenham star Kane ahead of next season, according to Bild.

Kane, 27, is contracted at Spurs, where he continues to star, until 2024.

The England international has scored nine goals in 15 Premier League games this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United remain interested in signing Aston Villa star Grealish, according to the Daily Mail. The midfielder was heavily linked with a move to United in the close season, but ended up staying at Villa, who are in action at Old Trafford on Friday.

- Eric Garcia has seemingly made a decision on his future. The Guardian reports the Manchester City defender has agreed personal terms on a five-year deal with Barcelona. Garcia is contracted at City until the end of the season.

- With Mauricio Pochettino reportedly set to take over at Paris Saint-Germain, Tottenham apparently have worries over Hugo Lloris. The Sun reports Spurs fear the goalkeeper could join former boss Pochettino in Paris and they are eyeing West Brom's Sam Johnstone and Manchester United's Dean Henderson as potential targets.

- Yet to play for Arsenal this season, Mesut Ozil's future remains a talking point. Bild reports the playmaker wants to see out his contract, which runs until season's end, with the Premier League outfit.

- Also coming out of contract, Sami Khedira looks set for a Juventus exit. The Daily Mail reports the midfielder is set to hold talks with Everton over a potential move.

- Struggling for game time at Manchester United, Jesse Lingard has had the one-year option on his contract at the club triggered, according to Sky Sports. Lingard's deal now runs until 2022.

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