The PSG rift pushing Mauricio Pochettino towards Man United

Reports linking Mauricio Pochettino with a return to England picked up speed over the last 12 hours. The ex-Spurs manager wants the vacant Man United job. Yet, his Paris Saint-Germain contract complicates a Premier League comeback.

PSG have one of the strongest squads in world football. Their frontline boasts Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi; in reserve, they have Mauro Icardi, a two-time golden boot winner in Serie A. Every other area of the pitch is equally stacked.

If Pochettino desires reinforcements, the board have a bottomless pit of money to dip into for a transfer. So why does he want to leave? We look at the reasons behind Pochettino’s desire to escape from the French capital. 

‘Uneasy’ relationship with Leonardo

The working environment at PSG is not the happiest, according to several departing managers. Thomas Tuchel, the coach who guided Chelsea to a Champions League triumph last season and has steered them to the top of the Premier League early in this campaign, certainly didn’t like it. 

Pochettino’s predecessor, Tuchel, fought with sporting director Leonardo about a lack of control in shaping the team. Leading the side during the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic, Tuchel wanted reinforcements for his tired players.

Leonardo responded by suggesting he would fine him for speaking publically about transfer policy. 

Leonardo is a fiery character who has gotten into arguments on a relatively regular basis over the years, with a heated exchange between himself and Zlatan Ibrahimovic making the news in 2013.

The Telegraph report that Pochettino has an ‘uneasy’ relationship with Leonardo and that this is one reason he would prefer to move to Old Trafford.

Another is that his family remain in England. Pochettino’s wife and kids stayed in London when he went to Paris. He has yet to find a permanent residence and presently lives in a (probably quite fancy) hotel. 

Managing a team of egos

We already mentioned the embarrassment of riches at Pochettino’s disposal when it comes to attacking options. However, there are drawbacks to having a line-up full of famed forwards, such as managing their egos. Pochettino’s tenure at Spurs was notable for the high-energy performances of his team. He expected his players to be among the fittest in the division, always outworking their opponents.

Getting the likes of Messi to put in the same shift is a more challenging task. Players who have achieved everything in the game are less motivated to follow the instructions of a drill sergeant.

Consequently, Pochettino has been unable to create a team in his image. This is one of the reasons behind the disjointed recent performances of PSG. 

United have egos of their own that require massaging. Cristiano Ronaldo is the obvious case that comes to mind. He isn’t particularly interested in pressing either.

Yet, there are fewer egos to handle at Old Trafford than the Parc des Princes. 

Is Pochettino coming to United?

Pochettino’s arrival at United depends on a few things. 

The Manchester Evening News reports that United would have to pay PSG £10 million to buy Pochettino out of his contract. Although that is a sizeable sum, United would be willing to pay it. Pochettino wants to coach at United.

The Argentine’s exit from PSG could herald the arrival of Zinedine Zidane, who would be a more popular figure among the PSG squad. 

Zidane has been out of work since stepping down as Real Madrid manager last summer. His time at the Bernabeu was full of success, particularly in the Champions League. One of Zidane’s greatest strengths is his ability to man-manage, an essential tool for a PSG coach.