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Published On: Mon, Jan 4th, 2021

Mauricio Pochettino is back – but why has he chosen Paris St-Germain?

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Just 13 months after being shown the door at Tottenham Hotspur, Mauricio Pochettino is back in football at the highest level with French billionaires Paris St-Germain.
It was only ever going to be a tempting project at a massive club that would coax the Argentine back into the footballing limelight, and in that respect PSG fit the bill perfectly.
He spoke to many clubs during his enforced sabbatical, including Benfica and Monaco, and he was certainly approached and sounded out by Barcelona and Real Madrid, although no official offer was made.
But now the timing is perfect for Pochettino to take the reins at the Parc de Princes.
As a former player who enjoyed two and a half seasons at PSG, the decision to take the job may well be a no-brainer, but that’s a long way from saying it is going to be a walk in the park, as the former incumbent at the club Thomas Tuchel would no doubt tell him.
Tuchel had already told the club he wasn’t going to be staying on next season.
Tuchel is one of those modern German managers who has always understood football as a game in which the collective is far more important than the individual, whereas at a club like PSG the importance of the star is paramount, to the extent that players like Kylian Mbappe and Neymar have a direct line of communication with the president.
Unsurprisingly therefore, you sense Tuchel felt his authority was being constantly undermined.
Despite being runners-up in last year’s Champions League, he leaves with the club – French champions in seven of the previous eight seasons – in a recently unprecedented third place in Ligue 1.
They are still just a point off top spot and very much in with a chance of winning the league, but it is their worst return at this stage since the 2013-14 season.
Fourteen points from a possible 24 might be good enough at any other club, but Tuchel leaves with PSG having lost four of their first 17 games.
Last season, before the league was terminated after 27 games, they had lost just three. But the sacking had more to do with perception than numbers.
The main focus of the squad last season had been on the Champions League and they followed his instructions to the letter.
During that campaign they showed unity particularly when, after a dinner at Marco Verratti’s restaurant where they promised to work as a team, they came back from a 2-1 first-leg deficit against Borussia Dortmund to win the home game 2-0 and make their way into the quarter-finals just before the pandemic hit.
But this season it has proved impossible to recreate that spirit and the often tetchy and awkward relationship Tuchel had with director of football Leonardo meant he had to go.
Pochettino, meanwhile, has been playing the waiting game. It hasn’t been the easiest of times for him, although he knew that sooner or later an opportunity would appear.

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