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Pochettino named new coach of Paris Saint-Germain

By The Rainbow
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AFP
Mauricio Pochettino was officially named the new coach of French champions Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday following the sacking of Thomas Tuchel.

PSG announced on its website that former Tottenham manager Pochettino had signed a contract until June 30, 2022 with an option for an additional year.

The 48-year-old Argentine was the only name in the frame to take over at the club where he played from 2001 to 2003 after PSG abruptly ended Tuchel’s involvement on December 24, reportedly for comments viewed as critical of the Qatari owners.

“This club has always held a special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories, especially of the unique atmosphere of the Parc des Princes,” Pochettino said in the PSG statement.

“I return to the club today with a lot of ambition and humility, and am eager to work with some of the world’s most talented players,” Pochettino said, adding he would do his utmost “to give our team the combative and attacking playing identity that Parisian fans have always loved.”

His priority will be to sate the Qatari-backed club’s quest for Champions League glory.

Tuchel, who oversaw the club’s first ever Champions League final appearance last season, guided Neymar and company into the knock-out stages this season before being axed.

Pochettino’s first major test will be the Champions League last-16 away leg at Barcelona next month.

Pochettino will take charge of his first match next Saturday at Saint-Etienne as Ligue 1 resumes after the winter break with PSG one point off the leaders in third.

– Earned plaudits –
Then, on February 16, he will be plotting the downfall of his compatriot Lionel Messi’s Barcelona at the Camp Nou, with the return leg on March 6.

Like Tuchel, Pochettino was sacked after leading Spurs to their first ever appearance in a Champions League final, against Liverpool in 2019.

Although he has yet to win any silverware the former PSG defender’s stock is high in managerial circles.

Pochettino made Tottenham a consistent Champions League qualifier in four years at the Premier League club before his departure in 2019.

He arrives in the French capital after being linked with a number of high-profile clubs, including Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barca.

He is due to meet up with the world’s most expensive player Neymar, France’s World Cup-winning forward Kylian Mbappe and their teammates at PSG’s first post-Christmas training session on Sunday.

His first coaching position was at struggling Espanyol, where in 2009 his first match in charge was against Barcelona.

He earned plaudits for saving the Spanish outfit, where he played under fellow Argentine Marcelo Bielsa in 1998, from relegation.

The son of a farmer from Murphy, in the north of Argentina, he will have under his wing several compatriots to count on such as Mauro Icardi, Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes.

Pochettino will be keen to take advantage of the transfer window to bring in new faces, with French newspaper Le Parisien identifying his former Spurs charge, Inter Milan’s attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen, as one target. Dele Alli, who has fallen out of favour under Jose Mourinho at Tottenham, is another.

And looking further ahead, given their Argentine ties Pochettino may be the catalyst for six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi to consider PSG as potential new employers when he is free to leave Barcelona at the end of the season.