Barcelona: Pochettino open to coaching Messi at Camp Nou
Two years on from claiming he would never coach Barcelona, former Espanyol boss Mauricio Pochettino has backtracked on his comments.
Former Spurs tactician Mauricio Pochettino has opened the door to potentially coaching Barcelona after expressing regret for showing the Catalan giants "disrespect" with comments he made in 2018 when managing city rivals Espanyol.
Pochettino's managerial career is most synonymous with Tottenham, where he spent five years until 2019, but he first made his name at the Parakeets after a lengthy playing career in blue and white, famously knocking off Barça in one of his first games in charge.
Across two spells as a player, Pochettino represented Espanyol for just shy of 10 years and then became the club's head coach in 2009, three years after retiring as a player.
It was this association that was often referenced by Spanish football commentators and columnists when suggesting Pochettino would not coach Espanyol's rivals Barcelona.
Pochettino also expressed reticence to such an idea on several occasions, but most recently in 2018 when he claimed he would never coach Barca, Arsenal or Rosario Central due to his close ties to Espanyol, Spurs and Newell's Old Boys.
"I would prefer to work on my farm in Argentina than go to work in certain places," he said.
But he has now backtracked on that grand statement.
Pochettino on Barcelona: "You never know"
"I have to explain it well," he told El País. "I was in Barcelona that year and I met [Barça president, Josep Maria] Bartomeu in a bar.
"We greeted each other because we were taking the children to the same school and we were talking for five minutes. That generated a rumour that set off alarms because there were more teams that wanted us.
"When they [reporters] asked me [about the meeting], I wanted to settle it drastically. I didn't want to disrespect Barcelona.
"You can say things differently. Espanyol has made a name for me, but I'm not arrogant and I didn't like making a statement like that. "Maybe now I wouldn't because in life you never know what will happen."
Pochettino has been out of a job since November last year when he was sacked by Spurs, just a few months after leading the club to the Champions League final.
Barça are currently coached by Quique Setién, but following his failure to retain the LaLiga title after replacing Ernesto Valverde earlier this year, reports suggest he must win the Champions League just to keep his job.
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