Man United hold talks with Ernesto Valverde as fears PSG will block Mauricio Pochettino exit grow

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Manchester United are interested in Mauricio Pochettino – but have begun talks with interim candidates, including Ernesto Valverde, over fears Paris St-Germain will not release the Argentine mid-season.

The former Tottenham manager is keen to take over at Old Trafford and it is believed he would be prepared to walk away from PSG now.

But United’s hierarchy do not want to risk their season being further derailed by protracted negotiations with the French giants after sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Sunday.

That is why they are pressing ahead with plans to appoint an interim, with former Barcelona coach Valverde on a shortlist of around five possibilities to take charge until the summer.

While United would not rule out paying a buyout if PSG were prepared to release Pochettino from his contract, which does not run out until 2023, they do not want to get locked in negotiations unless they are certain a deal could be struck.

They are aware of the financial might of the Qatar-backed club – and how they withstood Real Madrid’s attempts to sign Kylian Mbappe last summer.

Despite the France World Cup winner making it clear he wanted to leave – and the fact that he will be a free agent at the end of the season – PSG stood firm in their insistence that he was not for sale.

If they take a similar stance with Pochettino – not least because of the potential embarrassment of their manager wanting to quit midway through a campaign – it runs the risk of wrecking United’s hopes of trying to salvage their own season.

Pochettino is considered one of a high-calibre list of targets to take over permanently after Solskjaer’s sacking.

Erik Ten Hag, Brendan Rodgers, Zinedine Zidane and Ralf Rangnick all have admirers within Old Trafford.

Pochettino has an influential backer in Sir Alex Ferguson, but the legendary manager will not be the only one who has input in the next appointment.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

It is understood United’s initial focus is on restoring stability and are prepared to wait for the ideal appointment.

Pochettino this week insisted he was happy in Paris, but is understood to be dissatisfied with elements of his job and a lack of control.

The winter break in France was seen as a potential opportunity to walk away, but United will hope to have an interim in place before that, which would appear to rule that out.

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