Zinedine Zidane announced his surprise resignation on Thursday afternoon, after winning his third consecutive Champions League trophy, and Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has made Pochettino his number one choice for the job.
Perez has admired Pochettino for some time but this summer is readying a serious push to bring him to the Santiago Bernabeu, and is not thought to be considering any other choices for the role.
Any advance from Real Madrid would be firmly rejected by Tottenham. Just last week Pochettino, Jesus Perez and the rest of the coaching team signed new five-year deals at Spurs, taking them up to the end of the 2022-23 season. Signing those deals appeared to end any questions about Pochettino’s immediate future at the club, and Tottenham pointed on Thursday afternoon to the fact that Pochettino had signed a new deal just one week ago.
Tottenham say that there is no release clause, which strengthens their ability to say no to Real Madrid. Some close to the Argentinean believe he would be allowed to leave for Madrid owing to an informal agreement struck between coach and club, but Spurs say there is no such informal agreement either.
Before the signing of the contract last week, Pochettino’s future had been one of the long-running stories of Tottenham’s season. He achieved notable success against Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage, earning a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu before Spurs famously beat Real 3-1 at Wembley. He has been showered with attention by the Spanish media and when asked about the possibility of him replacing Zidane, has said that “you never know what is going to happen in football”. Only that he would never manage Barcelona or Arsenal.
At the end of the season Pochettino had left his future up in the air, speculating on the club’s future with another manager, and calling on the club to “be brave and take risks”. But after positive talks with the club hierarchy Pochettino did sign a new contract, promising the start of a positive summer transfer window with Spurs keen to invest in improving the squad. Even with Toby Alderweireld, Mousa Dembele and Danny Rose up for sale.
But Tottenham’s summer is now likely to be dominated by the biggest club in the world pursuing their manager like never before, meaning it will take all of Daniel Levy’s resolve to say no to them.