Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday confirmed the sacking of coach Thomas Tuchel, who had been at the club since July 2018, but did not name his successor.
“After an in-depth analysis of its sporting situation, Paris Saint-Germain decided to terminate Thomas Tuchel’s contract,” the French giants announced in a statement.
Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino, the ex-Tottenham coach and a former PSG player, is widely reported to be the favourite to take over.
Tuchel, whose axing was widely reported but unconfirmed last week, managed PSG 127 times in all competitions, with 95 wins, 12 draws and 20 defeats.
His trophy haul featured two Ligue 1 titles (2019, 2020) as well as the French Cup and French League Cup in 2020.
The 47-year-old German also led the Parisian club to their first ever Champions League final last August, which they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.
Despite appearing to be adept at man-managing PSG’s squad of superstar players such as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, Tuchel reportedly upset the Qatari-backed club after complaining about an apparent lack of recognition at leading PSG to the Champions League final.
“I would like to thank Thomas Tuchel and his staff for all they have contributed to the club,” said PSG chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi.
“Thomas has put a lot of energy and passion into the job, and we will of course remember the good moments we shared together. I wish him all the best for the future.”
Less than three months on from the final defeat to Bayern Munich in Lisbon, Tuchel has become the first PSG coach to leave mid-season since Antoine Kombouare was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti in December 2011.
– Barca date looms –
Tuchel departs the Parc des Princes having secured a last 16 Champions League clash with Barcelona and PSG sitting third in Ligue 1 — a point shy of leaders Lyon — despite being plagued by injuries, suspensions and coronavirus infections.
Should Pochettino take over, his opening match in charge will be January 6’s trip to Saint-Etienne on Ligue 1’s resumption after the winter break.
Then, on February 16, the Argentinian could face his first massive test against his compatriot Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, with the return leg on March 6.
Pochettino was let go after five and a half years at Tottenham in the aftermath of leading the north London side to their first ever appearance in a Champions League final against Liverpool in 2019.
Although he has yet to win any silverware the former PSG defender’s stock is high in managerial circles.
The Parisians will be keen to complete his signing and avoid missing their man who has been linked to the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Barca in recent months.
Importantly, Pochettino, like Tuchel, is at ease in man-managing a dressing room crammed with a galaxy of stars.
Neymar has been at the centre of new controversy this week after Brazilian media reported that he is organising a huge New Year’s Eve party despite the coronavirus pandemic — claims his lawyers have denied.
Pochettino is the son of a farmer from Murphy, in the north of Argentina.
He is known as a stickler for detail, which coupled with his tactical acumen, devotion to an attractive style of play and his popularity amongst Parisian fans, makes him a potentially ideal fit as the new occupant of the PSG dugout.
He would have under his wing several compatriots such as Mauro Icardi, Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes.
His anticipated arrival before the winter transfer window will allow him to bring in new faces, potentially one former Spurs charge, Inter Milan’s attacking midfielder Christian Eriksen.
And looking further ahead, given their Argentine ties, Pochettino may be the catalyst for six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi to start regarding PSG as potential new employers when he is free to move from the Camp Nou at the end of the season.