Ligue 1 English

Leonardo insists Mauricio Pochettino ‘has never asked to leave’ PSG, amid Man Utd interest

It is certainly no secret that Manchester United are known to be long-time admirers of PSG’s former Tottenham and Southampton manager, Mauricio Pochettino, since their icon and former legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson had lunch in 2016 with the Argentine in a popular restaurant in Manchester.

While that may be so, Mauricio Pochettino will now stay on record as the Paris Saint-Germain manager and apparently “never asked to leave” amid strong links to the Manchester United job, the French club’s sporting director Leonardo has just clarified.

Pochettino, whose contract at PSG was extended until 2023 when Mourinho was sacked from Tottenham last season, is still being mooted as the leading contender to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford on a permanent basis, although for now the claims are that this will most likely happen at the end of the season, according to the United hopefuls, of course. However the Parc des Princes director has spoken up to clear the air amid speculation continuing to create confusion regarding the issue for all parties concerned and supposedly involved.

“We don’t want Pochettino to leave,” Leonardo said.

“He’s never asked to leave and no club have contacted us in relation to him.”

United have finally decided to focus on an interim boss to replace Solskjaer, who was finally given the sack on Sunday after a humiliating 4-1 defeat at Watford left the club trailing eighth in the Premier League.

Former United midfielder and one of the senior coaches of the first XI previously under Solskjaer, Michael Carrick, is likely to remain in temporary charge for Sunday’s meeting with Chelsea as Ralf Rangnick’s visa is yet to be ready, having already been appointed by the United hierarchy as interim manager on a 6-month contract until the end of this season.

Meanwhile, it has also been alleged that former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is believed to harbor no interest at all in the United job although earlier reports were still circulating in the English media that the former Los Blancos gaffer could possibly be interested in taking up the offer. Later this was refuted and it was instead reported that he would much prefer to consider being the manager of either the French national side or PSG should either position become available.

However, again anxious to clear the air, Leonardo dismissed reports of contact between PSG and Zidane in a hotel in the French capital as “ridiculous”.

“It’s ridiculous to imagine that a meeting with Zinedine Zidane could have taken place in a big hotel in Paris in front of the eyes of everyone,” Leonardo said.

“We have a lot of respect for Zinedine Zidane, what he did as a player and coach, but I can tell you very clearly that there is no contact and that no meeting with him took place.”

PSG sit 11 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 but will finish as runners-up in their Champions League group following Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat by Manchester City, which has given the unfortunate opportunity for the regular menagerie of self-proclaimed experts, pundits and observers to rubbish not only the Argentine manager but also Mbappe, Neymar and Messi, with the latter taking the brunt of the brutal criticism, having even labeled as a ‘passenger’ by some.

But that’s fodder for another story.