Barcelona are currently looking for a new manager for next season after Luis Enrique announced he would be leaving. Pochettino has been linked and earlier this month Pochettino had the chance to distance himself from that job but did not take it. But today he did exactly that, saying his “loyalty” to Espanyol means that he could never do it.
Pochettino had been seen with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu last Tuesday, prompting more questions about whether Pochettino would be heading to the Nou Camp this summer. But when asked today whether Pochettino could replace Enrique at Barcelona, he was very clear that his loyalty to Espanyol, where he had two spells as a player and one as a manager, made that impossible.
“I am an Espanyol supporter,” Pochettino explained. “I don’t need to speak too much. It’s like if one day Daniel Levy sacked me, in a few years, for me it would be impossible to manage Arsenal. It is so difficult to keep the values, to be loyal, with your heart, with your emotion. But for me, before being a manager, before being a player, being loyal is more important. I am an Espanyol fan, I love Espanyol. It’s like now Tottenham for me. It will be impossible one day to move to Arsenal, impossible.”
This was a far firmer position than the one Pochettino expressed when asked about the Barcelona job on 3 March. Then, he said that it was “normal” for his name to be linked with the Barcelona job, and that he did not want to discuss it in case “people can twist my words”. Pochettino had said that he was “born with a ball in [my] arms”, his way of saying that he understands how the football industry works.
Between then and now Pochettino went back to Barcelona, as he often does during international breaks or whenever he has spare time. He met his old friend Bartomeu in a bar. Tottenham had said they had known about the meeting, Pochettino said it was a “coincidence” and that it only lasted for five minutes.
“I don’t like to speak about rumour, but that wasn’t a rumour because it was true,” Pochettino confirmed. “It was a coincidence in a bar in Barcelona last Tuesday. Because I know him for a long time, before, before he became chairman of Barcelona. Many people around us see us to say hello. We spend five minutes together. That was the reality. You know the rumour after is impossible to stop.”