Mauricio Pochettino has admitted he would “have to listen” to any approach from Real Madrid.
Tottenham boss Pochettino has insisted he remains settled at Spurs having only signed a new five-year contract last month.
But the former Argentina defender has been installed as the bookies’ favourite to replace Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu, and has conceded it would be hard to ignore overtures from the 13-time European club champions.
After launching his book ‘A New World’ in Spain, Pochettino opened up on the possibility of Madrid’s interest in his services.
“When Real Madrid call you, you have to listen to them but it doesn’t depend on me,” Pochettino told Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.
“I’ve signed a contract and I’m very happy at Tottenham because they let me work and we’re growing together.
“Now I want to focus on planning for next season and keep out of all the speculation.”
Zidane explained his decision to leave Madrid less than a week after claiming a third Champions League title in a row as “time to go out at the top” in Thursday’s press conference.
Real’s LaLiga struggles, finishing third and 17 points behind fierce rivals Barcelona, no doubt factored in World Cup winner Zidane’s decision.
Pochettino quickly shot to the top of bookmakers’ lists for Zidane’s replacement, despite only signing that new deal with Spurs last week.
“I take it naturally, it does not affect me at all, I am involved in a spectacular project where the motivation is tremendous,” Pochettino told Spanish sports daily AS.
“I renewed my contract recently for another five years, I am happy that people at Tottenham are happy with me.
“I live in the present, that is the most important thing. I enjoy what is happening and what has to be will be.”
It is understood that there is no buy-out clause in Pochettino’s new Spurs deal, and no verbal agreement with chairman Daniel Levy that the 46-year-old could leave if Madrid come calling.
Zidane was understood to be under contract at Madrid until 2020, before quitting in the wake of guiding Real to their 3-1 Champions League final triumph over Liverpool.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Italian Maurizio Sarri and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp have all been linked to Madrid, alongside Pochettino.
Germany boss Joachim Low meanwhile has ruled himself out of the running to become the next Real manager.
Low told a Germany press conference: “I can completely rule it out. I’m sure they will find a strong successor but that is not for me to worry about.
“I am here with Germany in the World Cup now.”
Great players often don’t make great managers. That’s the popular belief anyway and it stems from the notion that supremely gifted footballers fail to relate to the shortcomings of lesser players and hence struggle in a coaching capacity.
Pep Guardiola was an excellent midfielder in his own right but could never aspire to the heights Zidane scaled during his playing career. A comparison would’ve been pointless. Yet, the Frenchman’s spell as Madrid boss has persistently been measured against the achievements of Guardiola’s on the Camp Nou touchline.
The Spaniard won 14 trophies over the course of four seasons in charge of the Catalans. Following his resignation on Thursday, Zidane walks away with nine trophies in two years and four months. But while Guardiola has always been lauded as a tactical genius, his counterpart isn’t held in such high regard.
Granted, Zidane hasn’t revolutionised football the way Guardiola did at Barca and continues to do at Manchester City but tactical astuteness is only one attribute of a successful manager. The Frenchman’s specific skill set makes him an accomplished leader, particularly when it comes to an elite outfit which demands an understated touch, one he’s proven to provide with great sophistication.
After Rafa Benitez’s sacking in 2016, Zidane took over a Madrid side in disarray and not only did he steady the ship with the utmost composure but instantaneously propelled them to great success. He immediately commanded the respect of Madrid’s superstars and extracted the best from a stunning group of individuals which is no mean feat.
Despite the unforgiving criticism and scrutiny that comes with occupying the hotseat at one of the biggest clubs in the world housed within a politically infused Santiago Bernabeu atmosphere, his conduct has always been impeccable.
Even when Madrid struggled in La Liga earlier in the season, not once did he get agitated, lash out at his players or direct blame towards the club hierarchy like other, more experienced, managers tend to do. His serene leadership prevented Madrid’s season from being derailed.
Zidane’s steady hand is something he has in common with Carlo Ancelotti, a manager he looks up to and served under as an assistant when the Italian delivered Madrid’s 10th Champions League title in 2014. The AC Milan legend took over from an outspoken Jose Mourinho at the time and with an almost casual demeanour, guided them to that much anticipated ‘La Decima’.
Drawing inspiration from Ancelotti, Zidane has navigated a surprising foray into management with the same grace he would weave his magic on the football pitch. His ability to play to a team’s strengths, manage big egos and ride a storm means he’s tailor-made for one job in particular – leading the French national team.
France are currently witnessing the emergence of arguably their most talented generation and are quickly approaching the sweet spot in terms of squad balance. The likes of Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba are already seasoned pros and growing in stature as leaders while Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Thomas Lemar spearhead the talented group of youngsters coming through.
However, all that attacking potential is in danger of being wasted or at least restricted by a cautious and unconvincing Didier Deschamps. There are murmurs of discontent among the players and Adrien Rabiot’s falling out with the coach has a familiar feeling of the wheels coming off for France.
Should they disappoint at this summer’s World Cup, calls for a change in management will become deafening and ‘Zizou’ conveniently lies in wait. Many believe it would be a natural advancement for the celebrated Frenchman.
Deschamps himself has admitted that Zidane will eventually lead the national team, deeming it the ‘logical’ course of action.
If the 45-year-old’s next job is indeed leading Les Bleus, it would be a poetic progression for a French legend whose exploits as a player was often poetry in motion.
The Brazilian prospect, who is next month due to formalise his move to Los Blancos after he celebrates his 18th birthday, was expected to be coached by the Frenchman.
But news of Zizou’s resignation has come as a blow for the talented forward, who is likely to be part of the Whites’ pre-season tour to the US.
“I was really looking forward to working with Zidane, but unfortunately it can’t be,” the Flamengo attacker told Marca after a 2-0 win over Bahia.
“Hopefully one day I can find him to give me some advice on how to improve as a player.”
Vinicius Junior also revealed he spoke to Brazilian compatriots Marcelo and Casemiro following their third consecutive Champions League success.
He added: “I spoke with Marcelo and Casemiro to congratulate them and wish them luck with the national team at the World Cup.”