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Ligue 1 - Football: What next for Pochettino?

Mauricio Pochettino has come a long way since he arrived at Southampton in 2013 and the PSG boss could have his pick of Europe's biggest clubs in the summer.

Pochettino still has unfinished business at PSG, who look sure to win the France Ligue 1 2021/22 title, with all the action included in the European Soccer Live Streaming Highlights, and are 7/1 to lift the UEFA Champions League 2021/22.

However, there is already speculation that he will leave Paris at the end of the current season and Manchester United and Real Madrid are reportedly among his admirers.

The 49-year-old had a successful playing career as a centre-back, starting out at Newell's Old Boys in his native Argentina before moving to Europe to play for Espanyol in 1994. Later, he spent a couple of seasons at PSG, playing alongside the likes of Ronaldinho, Nicolas Anelka, Jay-Jay Okocha and current Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.

Pochettino also won 20 caps for Argentina, famously conceding a penalty to give England a 1-0 group-stage win at the 2002 World Cup, and he finished his career back in Barcelona with Espanyol, where he would begin the next stage of his footballing life in 2009.

2009-2017: Learning his trade at Espanyol, Southampton and Tottenham

In January 2009, relegation-threatened Espanyol took a punt on rookie coach Pochettino, whose first match in charge was a daunting Copa del Rey clash with Pep Guardiola's Barcelona.

Espanyol battled their way to a 0-0 draw, going on to avoid the drop comfortably that season, and in January 2013, Pochettino arrived at Southampton to replace Nigel Adkins. His 18 months on the south coast included some memorable Premier League wins over Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea and he led the Saints to an impressive eighth-placed finish in 2013/14.

That achievement caught the eye of Tottenham, who swooped to appoint Poch as successor to Tim Sherwood. It proved an inspired move as the new boss oversaw Harry Kane's breakthrough season in 2014/15 and gave a prominent role to another talented youngster, Dele Alli.

In 2015/16 Spurs were the last team in contention to deny Leicester a shock Premier League title, before ending up in third place, and the following season they had their best-ever Premier League campaign, finishing as runners-up to Chelsea with a haul of 86 points.

2019: Scintillating Spurs reach Champions League final

Pochettino led Spurs to four consecutive top-four finishes in the Premier League but he is most fondly remembered for the club's scintillating run to the 2019 Champions League final.

The team of young players he had developed in north London sneaked through a tough group featuring Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV before coming of age in the knockout stages.

Spurs eased past Borussia Dortmund 4-0 on aggregate in the last 16 and then knocked out Manchester City on away goals after a pulsating 4-3 defeat in the quarter-final second leg.

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More drama followed in the semis as Ajax took a 3-0 aggregate lead over a depleted Tottenham side before Lucas Moura's second-half hat-trick sealed another astonishing away-goals victory for the Lilywhites.

That night in Amsterdam was the high point of Pochettino's reign. A controversial penalty, awarded after just 24 seconds, helped Liverpool claim a 2-0 win over Spurs in the final and just over six months later the Argentine was sacked with Tottenham 14th in the table.

2021-2022: Weight of expectation at star-studded PSG

Having established himself as a manager adept at developing young players and embracing the underdog role at Espanyol, Southampton and Tottenham, Pochettino took on a very different job in January 2021.

PSG's owners demand instant success and Pochettino enjoyed memorable Champions League knockout wins over Barcelona and Bayern Munich last season before losing to Manchester City in the semis.

Pipped by Lille to the Ligue 1 title in 2020/21, PSG responded with a spectacular summer transfer window, signing Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, Achraf Hakimi and Georginio Wijnaldum before landing their biggest coup with the capture of Barcelona legend Lionel Messi.

Expectations were sky-high that Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe would fire PSG to new heights and they are 15 points clear at the top of Ligue 1. Mbappe's late goal gave PSG a 1-0 first-leg win over Real Madrid in the Champions League last-16 tie but the mood music suggests that Pochettino may still depart this summer.

Some PSG supporters booed Pochettino's name when the teams were announced before last week's home game against Saint Etienne and former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane has been touted as a possible successor in Paris.

2022-: A new challenge?

Pochettino's current club is 8/5 to win Wednesday's Champions League second leg away to 29/20 hosts Real. Regardless of that result, speculation is increasing that he may be installed at the Bernabeu at the start of next season.

Old Trafford is also an option, as Pochettino and Ajax boss Erik ten Hag are thought to be top of Manchester United's managerial wishlist, but wherever the Argentinian ends up he will need time.

Pochettino's success at Spurs came about thanks to his patient nurturing of a young squad who bought into his energetic, attack-minded, high-pressing style of football.

He seems to have found it harder to impose his ideas on a star-studded PSG side so he could have a big career decision to make at the end of the 2021/22 campaign.

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