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Mauricio Pochettino: Real Madrid Links 'Positive' Amid Santiago Solari Exit Talk

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2019

DORTMUND, GERMANY - MARCH 04: Head coach Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham Hotspur speaks at the press conference during the Tottenham Hotspur Press Conference and Training on March 4, 2019 in Dortmund, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has said interest in him from Real Madrid is "something positive" amid continued speculation regarding the future fo current boss Santiago Solari.

After three losses in succession on home soil in three different competitions—culminating in a 4-1 hammering at the hands of Ajax in the UEFA Champions League—effectively brought an end to Madrid's season, talk has already turned to the future and who may come in after Solari.

Pochettino is one of a number of names reported to be in the frame. Speaking to TVE (h/t AS), the Spurs boss said he would like to return to Spain again having enjoyed a spell at Espanyol, and he added any interest from Los Blancos is a sign of good work being done in his current role:

"My relationship with Spain will always be there. Hopefully one day I can go back there and play some winning football that people like to watch. I would consider going back. You should always remain open to new experiences and new projects. ...

"I see it (Real Madrid interest) as something positive. It means that someone there has noticed that we're doing our jobs well."

Pochettino was also asked directly about the struggles of Solari following a challenging run for Madrid. 

"I know him because we played together," the Tottenham boss said of his compatriot. "He is a colleague, and it's always frustrating and disappointing when teams like PSG or Real Madrid get knocked out of the big competitions"

The manner in which Real's season has unravelled has been remarkable. Sid Lowe of the Guardian put into context just how bad the recent week was for the Spanish giants:

Sid Lowe @sidlowe

Seven days, three home defeats, 8-1 agg score, all three competitions gone, one after other, cup, league, European Cup, season over on 5 March, the day before their birthday, Barça now historically better in clásicos 96-95... probably the worst week Real Madrid have ever had.

Per OmniSport, following the humiliating defeat to Ajax, Solari said he isn't the kind of character who will walk away from the job:

Omnisport @OmnisportNews

"I didn't come here at such a difficult time for the club to quit." 👊 Under-fire Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari has no plans to resign in the wake of their Champions League exit. https://t.co/z2I31LMrMA

Even so, reports would suggest he won't have too much longer in the Santiago Bernabeu hot seat.

According to AS, Pochettino is Madrid's top target to take over as boss in the summer. It's been reported by Paola Nunez of ESPN Deportes that Solari is now effectively "an interim manager" and will be gone when a replacement is secure, with former bosses Jose Mourinho and Zinedine Zidane in the frame.

Pochettino has also previously been linked with Manchester United, although it would now be a huge surprise if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wasn't given the job on a full-time basis.

Football writer Daniel Storey summed up why Pochettino is so highly rated:

Daniel Storey @danielstorey85

I look forward to people using a penalty defeat with an injury-ravaged squad suffering from underinvestment as fuel for questions over Mauricio Pochettino's aptitude.

Following an abject campaign, Solari is unlikely to be in charge come the end of the season, and Madrid would benefit from an experienced coach with pedigree stepping in.

While Mourinho and Zidane both tick those boxes, Pochettino now surely represents the ideal long-term candidate for Madrid. The core of the Los Blancos team may be ageing, but there are a number of high-class young players at the club who would thrive under his guidance.   

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