PSG

Pochettino leads candidates to replace Tuchel at PSG

Pochettino, a former PSG player, is top of the Ligue 1 club's list but Max Allegri and Thiago Motta, who has coached the under-21s, are also being considered.

Pochettino.
IAN KINGTON AFP

PSG sacked Thomas Tuchel on Wednesday night according to reports and while there has as yet been no official confirmation from the Ligue 1 giants the club are believed to be sounding out possible successors to the German tactician ahead of PSG’s next fixture away at St-Étienne on 6 January. The name on the top of the list is that of Mauricio Pochettino, who is currently between clubs after parting ways with Tottenham and a former PSG player, the Argentinean spending two seasons at the Parc des Princes between 2001-03.

Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino is PSG sporting director Leonardo’s preferred option and reports in France suggest that preliminary contact has already been made. The factors working in the Argentinean’s favour are numerous. He is a free agent and PSG will not have to ruffle any favours (or part with any cash) to secure his services and his stock remains incredibly high after guiding Spurs to the Champions League final. There is also his PSG pedigree, which will sit well with fans who have not had a former player on the bench since Antoine Kombouaré departed in 2011.

For Pochettino as well the timing could hardly be better. PSG face Barcelona in the Champions League last 16, which is a huge draw for the former Espanyol captain and manager, and the Ligue 1 champions are hardly in a precarious position domestically. A one-point deficit in the league and PSG’s dominance of the Coupe de France give Pochettino a decent base for securing silverware in his first half-season. The Argentinean has not been short of offers over the past year but has been biding his time for the right opportunity. PSG presents a low-risk assignment and he will likely be offered more autonomy than Tuchel was afforded.

Massimiliano Allegri

Massimiliano Allegri is another big-hitter looking for his next bout. The former Juventus schemer has a gold-plated CV after leading the Old Lady to five Scudetti and four Coppas, as well as being the last manager to take AC Milan to the summit of Serie A. Like Pochettino, Allegri has been watching the managerial merry-go round from the sidelines and although linked with a few jobs, most notably Manchester United, the 53-year-old has yet to take the plunge.

PSG would appeal to Allegri, who would feel instantly at home at the biggest fish in the Ligue 1 pond, and he has the advantage of having managed superstar players with considerable aplomb in the past. Tuchel suffered from a perceived lack of experience in that regard and Pochettino has never had a player of the stature of Cristiano Ronaldo under his charge. Keeping Neymar and Kylian Mbappé on side is the primary requisite of the incoming manager and Allegri is a coach who players respond to.

The Italian’s Champions League record also pips Pochettino’s with Allegri leading Juventus to two finals during his time there.

Thiago Motta

Another possibility, although considerably more remote, is Thiago Motta. The former Italy international had a stellar career as a player at the Parc des Princes and took over the PSG under-19s when he hung up his boots but his first foray into senior management at Genoa lasted just over two months and he only achieved his UEFA Pro Licence in September. In a widely circulated interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport from November 2018, Motta laid out his footballing vision with mention of a 2-7-2 formation. PSG may not be in the mood to throw that much caution to the wind against the likes of Barcelona and it is probably too soon for Motta to take the reins but he could be involved as an assistant to either Pochettino or Allegri.