Tottenham’s recent run of form may have had an unwanted consequence after Spanish giants Real Madrid were linked with a move for boss Mauricio Pochettino.
Spurs’ eye-catching performances under the Argentinian have won plaudits, and have apparently not gone unnoticed in La Liga. Adding fuel to the fire are Pochettino's quotes over the summer.
He said: "Obviously I would love one day to be the Real Madrid manager, but I have to go step by step. I need to keep learning.
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"Real Madrid are a great club and I have just started my managerial career. I have been in this just seven or eight years. But in the future, why not? Of course I would like to be the Real Madrid manager. Real Madrid are the best team in the world.”
Pochettino has managed in Spain once before, but was sacked by Espanyol with the Parakeets rock bottom of La Liga. If the rumours are true, it would appear Madrid chiefs are either in possession of short memories or a willingness to overlook his record on the continent.
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His time in England has so far seen him transform Southampton and now Spurs, though a major element of both those projects has been his faith in youngsters and products of their respective academies, which is arguably a philosophy it would be difficult to uphold among Los Galacticos.
In fact, if Madrid are indeed on the hunt for a new man in charge, it stems from player unhappiness with the current incumbent Rafael Benitez.
A number of Real’s stars are reportedly unhappy with the former Liverpool manager. Cristiano Ronaldo in particular was quoted by the Daily Mirror as telling President Florentino Perez that the club “will win nothing with Rafa”. A number of papers in England and Spain have even linked Ronaldo with a move back to Manchester United, such is his refusal to work under Benitez.
Were Pochettino to be sounded out about what is undoubtedly one of the biggest jobs in football, he would be a surprise appointment. However, his is one of the most notable, consistent footballing philosophies in the Premier League.
Madrid is not even the only top job he has been linked with. Touted as a potential successor to Roy Hodgson for England, the 43-year-old has been instrumental in the rise of a number of home-grown stars, including Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez while at Southampton, and now Dele Alli and Harry Kane at Spurs.
As it stands, Spurs would be hugely unfortunate to lose Pochettino. Equally, there is little reason he would want to abandon a promising young squad which is well on its way to a top-four finish and perhaps even higher in years to come.