Good news, everyone. Former Tottenham Hotspur manager and Nicest Guy In Football nominee Mauricio Pochettino is back in the game.
With Paris Saint-Germain sticking the knife into Thomas Tuchel just as he was about to carve his turkey over Christmas, former Paris defender Poch is the new man in the dugout. It’s the perfect opportunity for him: just like Tuchel was a few years back, he’s a revered tactician with glaring spaces on the ‘Honours’ section of his Wikipedia page. What better place to pick up some easy trophies?
The exciting thing, too, is that the Argentinian has endless pots of cash at his fingertips at PSG - or so the papers might have you believe. For a manager who never really got to flex that financial muscle at Spurs - and made a few references to his disappointment about it - he must be looking forward to whacking out the chequebook.
So just who is on Pochettino’s radar?
1. Paulo Dybala
One that got away of sorts, Paulo Dybala was one of Mauricio Pochettino’s last big targets at Tottenham. Poch was building an Argie army in North London with the likes of Erik Lamela, Giovanni Lo Celso, Juan Foyth and Paulo Gazzaniga - perhaps he was plotting to take back the Falklands - and Dybala would have been a jewel in the crown.
Spurs never landed the Juventus forward. He had a great season under Maurizio Sarri in the end, though new boss Andrea Pirlo seems to favour Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata. PSG are usually in the hunt for stars up the top of the pitch - this one might not come too expensive, in comparison to some big stars on the market.
Besides, the rumour mill is already talking about Kylian Mbappe leaving this summer. This is a big guilty pleasure signing but one that Pochettino would love to rubber stamp if he gets the chance to.
2. Boubakary Soumaré
TRANSFER GOSSIP Mauricio Pochettino targets Dele Alli as first PSG signing
Pochettino’s sides usually ran the midfield. Moussa Sissoko, Mousa Dembele and Vincent Wanyama were all strong box-to-box enforcers nabbed from divisional rivals - with the likes of Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye and Leandro Parades to choose next to Marco Verratti, will Pochettino employ a similar midfielder?
Boubakary Soumaré is one such tireless midfielder who could interest the new PSG manager. The Lille man has strength, sure, but he’s a good passer, has excellent positional awareness and would complement Verratti nicely.
3. Hugo Lloris
Hugo Lloris has been a stalwart for seasons at Spurs. He was Pochettino’s general on the field, so it’s perhaps not surprising that he’s been linked to a move back to his old boss’s new club.
Tottenham are starting to look for a longterm successor to the World Cup-winning captain, while PSG are eyeing up options between the sticks. This one makes sense in the short-term - Poch is going to need a strong leader to take the rest of the troops into war.
4. Max Aarons
Pochettino was famed for the work he did with full-backs. Kyle Walker and Danny Rose ascended to two of the finest in their positions in Europe, before Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies took their roles. It’s a position that PSG have been strangely quiet on in recent years.
Alessandro Florenzi is only at PSG on loan with no obligation to buy. Given the huge interest in Norwich City’s Max Aarons last summer from Barcelona and Bayern Munich, however, it would be surprising if Pochettino didn’t at least entertain the idea of bringing one of Europe's most exciting up-and-coming right-backs to the French capital.
If history repeats, Aarons could study under the Argentinian to become one of the best in the world at that role.
5. Dele Alli
Dele Alli isn’t getting games under Jose Mourinho. Mauricio Pochettino loved Dele Alli. PSG have been linked with Alli for years, Pochettino still has a friendly relationship with Spurs - we assume - and Alli needs games to prepare for the Euros.
It all makes sense on paper for the England star to go at least on loan until the end of the season. Whether or not Mourinho wants to risk his squad depth is another thing but expect this rumour to run on a little longer, either way.
6. Luke Shaw
Luke Shaw has previously claimed that he’d like to play for Pochettino again, after working with the manager during his time at Southampton. A lot of us assumed that the pair would link up at Manchester United, should Ole Gunnar Solksjaer fall on his sword. Maybe they’ll end up in France together?
As mentioned, PSG don’t have a wealth of riches at full-back, with the likes of Layvin Kurzawa and Mitchell Bakker to call upon on the left. With Alex Telles joining United this season, could Shaw take the chance to move abroad and stake a claim for England’s No.3 shirt? Poch certainly got the best out of him once upon a time.
7. Jamie Shackleton
Having spent the best years of his management career in England, Pochettino is all too aware of the talent coming through in the country right now. One significantly cheaper player that he may be interested in though - at least compared to Aarons or Alli - is Jamie Shackleton.
Shackleton hasn’t crystallised into a right-back or a midfielder yet despite playing both roles for Leeds United. A student of Marcelo Bielsa - just like Poch - Paris Saint-Germain might see the sense in signing the 21-year-old and letting the manager mould him into a new utility player, similar to how he used Eric Dier at Spurs.
8. Lionel Messi
The whispers grew a little louder just before Christmas about Lionel Messi joining Les Parisiens. Could hiring a fellow countryman as the manager be the first cog in bringing the little genius to Ligue 1?
Messi and Pochettino are both former Newell’s Old Boys players who have played in Catalonia. Just like Pep Guardiola - Messi’s favourite Barca coach - Poch is schooled in Bielsaball; he has experience of using traditional No.10s in his systems - see Christian Eriksen - and isn’t the type to get embroiled in power struggles with his players.
Well, it would be a spectacular move, right?
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