Football: No Barca or Arsenal for Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino before the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino before the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City.PHOTO: REUTERS

Impossible to move to Spanish rivals as an ex-Espanyol player and manager: Spurs boss

LONDON • Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino revealed that the chances of him managing Barcelona are the same as him taking charge at Arsenal - zero.

The Argentinian has been tipped to be a possible replacement when Barcelona manager Luis Enrique leaves the club at the end of the season.

But Pochettino, a former Espanyol centre-back and manager, said it would be impossible to move to the Spanish club's biggest rivals.

Speculation that the 45-year-old could be headed for the Nou Camp was further fuelled when he was spotted talking to Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu at a restaurant in the Spanish city during the international break.

But Pochettino explained the circumstances of the meeting at his press conference ahead of Tottenham's Premier League clash at Burnley tomorrow.

"It was a coincidence in a bar in Barcelona last Tuesday (March 21) because I've known him for a long time (since) before he became chairman of Barcelona and you know, many people around us saw us and said hello," he said.

"We spent five minutes together but that was the reality and you know, the rumours after are impossible to stop. But I am an Espanyol supporter and I think I don't need to say too much.

"It's like if one day (Spurs chairman) Daniel Levy sacked me after a few years, for me it would be impossible to manage Arsenal. I think in football, sometimes, I know that it is so difficult to keep values and to be loyal with your heart and your emotions but for me, before being a manager, before being a player, being loyal is more important - to be honest and I am an Espanyol fan.

"I love Espanyol and like now Tottenham for me, it would be impossible one day to move to Arsenal. It would be impossible."

If that was good news for Spurs fans, he had more. Pochettino revealed that striker Harry Kane will return from his ankle injury before the end of the season.

"We believe he can be available in the near future," he added. "But I cannot provide a time it will take for him to be available again, but I don't think it will be too long."

Tottenham Hotspur, 10 points behind Chelsea (69) in second place, must collect three points at Burnley, who have won nine of 14 league games at Turf Moor, if they want to stay in the title chase.

"Yes, it will be tough. They are doing very well at home," conceded Pochettino, whose side are without a win in their last three away games. "We know very well that we need to fight from the first moment of the game and they are a team, a very physical team, very aggressive team and it will be tough."

Burnley boss Sean Dyche will be hoping new England international Michael Keane, who played in the matches against Germany and Lithuania, can help his 13th-placed side keep a clean sheet.

"I was very pleased for him because I thought it was a big ask playing in Germany and in a back three," Dyche said, referring to Gareth Southgate's new-look 3-4-3 system.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'No Barca or Arsenal for Pochettino'. Print Edition | Subscribe