Some Tottenham Hotspur players are reportedly concerned about manager Mauricio Pochettino leaving the club at the end of the campaign.
According to Matt Law of the Daily Telegraph, there is a fear among some in the Spurs dressing room that Pochettino may be on the move, with Manchester United and Real Madrid said to be admirers of the coach.
"Sources close to Pochettino insist there is no chance of him leaving midseason and that the Argentinian remains committed to leading the club into the new stadium," said Law. "But there is a feeling among some players that Tottenham will face a battle to convince Pochettino to stay if Manchester United or Real Madrid come calling in the summer."
Madrid parted ways with manager Julen Lopetegui on Monday following a 5-1 trouncing at the hands of rivals Barcelona. Santiago Solari has been placed in charge for the short-term.
According to Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague, Madrid made an approach for Pochettino in the summer following the departure of former manager Zinedine Zidane:
Guillem Balague @GuillemBalague
If Conte decides to say no to Madrid (nothing final yet), the list of managers that rejected them in the last six months is quite important: Pochettino (Spurs did not want to negotiate for him, so he did not have any say on it), Allegri, Joachim Low, Nagelsmann #PoisonedChalice
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho was under pressure earlier in the campaign, although the Portuguese does appear to have steadied the ship at Old Trafford lately, with seven points taken from their last three Premier League games.
According to Law, there was interest from Chelsea in Pochettino in the summer before the Blues appointed Maurizio Sarri. The Spurs boss ended up signing a new contract at the club until 2023 to ease any fears about a possible departure.
Even so, if high-profile roles like the ones mentioned in Madrid and Manchester are available, the exceptional job Pochettino has done at Tottenham will ensure his name is in the frame.
Daniel Storey relayed figures from Sky Sports that put into context the fine work the former Argentina international has done:
While the fact Pochettino has yet to win silverware with Tottenham is often used as a stick to beat him with, the fact he's established Spurs as a regular UEFA Champions League outfit without spending huge money is a testament to his coaching acumen.
Additionally, Pochettino has helped a number of players make major strides in their game. The likes of Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen have developed into two of the Premier League's best in their respective positions, while Dele Alli, Kieran Trippier and Heung-Min Son are others to have made progress under his watch.
Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News said he thinks the Tottenham boss does escape criticism a little too easily sometimes:
Given their manager is tied to a long-term contract, Spurs will feel confident that Pochettino will stick around for a while yet.
What would possibly give them a problem is if the coach did agitate for a move, and the prospect of a switch to a club like Madrid or United would be enough to tempt any manager. With that in mind, Tottenham's fans and players alike will be hoping the Spurs hierarchy can match their manager's ambitions.