BARCELONA • Mauricio Pochettino boosted Tottenham Hotspur's attempts to keep him by insisting that he is happy at the club and will not seek to force a move to Real Madrid.
The Spanish club have identified Pochettino as their preferred successor to Zinedine Zidane, who resigned on Thursday, but face a battle to prise the in-demand manager away from Tottenham after he signed a five-year contract last week.
Pochettino's deal does not contain a release clause and, despite the attraction of the job at the Bernabeu, he claimed that he would not attempt to force a move because of his respect for Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.
The pair have forged a close relationship since Pochettino was appointed four years ago, with the chairman giving him assurances over the summer transfer budget before he signed his new contract.
Speaking on Friday in Barcelona at an event to promote his book Brave New World: Inside Pochettino's Spurs, he said: "I'm very happy at Tottenham. It would be disrespectful to Daniel (for me to force a move). I've just renewed with Tottenham.
"The link now with Madrid is normal and I take it with all normality. I'm committed to Spurs and still have a long contract with them I just signed."
In an earlier interview with the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, Pochettino had appeared to flutter his eyelashes at Real before backtracking at the press conference.
"When Real Madrid call you, you have to listen to them. Although in this case it doesn't depend on me," the 46-year-old said. "I have just signed a long contract with Tottenham and I am very happy here."
Tottenham would demand £42.5 million (S$76 million), the value of the Argentinian's contract, should Real poach him.
THE TIMES, LONDON