Mauricio Pochettino has categorically ruled out a move to Barcelona because of his allegiance to their cross-town rivals Espanyol. The Tottenham Hotspur manager reinforced the point he wanted to make about the primacy of loyalty by saying that, by the same token, he could never imagine himself working at Arsenal.
Pochettino was linked with the Barcelona job at the beginning of March, after Luis Enrique’s announcement that he would stand down from the post at the end of the season and, in truth, he did little to discourage the speculation. Then Pochettino talked about how he knew how the game worked and that he was not surprised to be on the long-list of potential successors to Luis Enrique.
The link between Pochettino and Barça was reignited last week when he was spotted in a bar in Barcelona with the club’s president, Josep Maria Bartomeu. But Pochettino dismissed it as a chance meeting and, given that he previously played for and managed Espanyol, he made it clear there was no possibility of him ever going to Barcelona.
“It was a coincidence in a bar in Barcelona last Tuesday,” Pochettino said. “I know him [Bartomeu] for a long time – before he became chairman of Barcelona. Our children went to the same school in Barcelona. We spent five minutes together. That was the reality. After that, you know the rumour is impossible to stop.
“But I am an Espanyol supporter. I think I don’t think I need to speak too much. It’s like if one day, [the Tottenham chairman] Daniel Levy sacked me – in a few years it would be impossible for me to manage Arsenal.
“In football, I know it is so difficult to keep your values and 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 Tottenham for me now. It will be impossible, one day, to move to Arsenal. It will be impossible.”
Pochettino offered a fitness update on Danny Rose, who has not played since the draw at Sunderland on 31 January because of a knee problem. It sounded as though the left-back had suffered a setback because he has been sent to see a specialist. Pochettino said Rose was behind Harry Kane in his rehabilitation and Kane, who is out with an ankle injury, is expected to return towards the end of April. Kane started to do some running work this week.
“Rose will see the specialist and then we will see,” Pochettino said. “He is a little bit further behind Harry Kane but we are positive, too.”