Thomas Tuchel left Borussia Dortmund on bad terms in 2017 and there is a growing feeling that his relationship with Paris Saint-Germain could be heading for a messy divorce too.
The 47-year-old German, whose contract is up at the end of this season, is in a sticky position after PSG lost 2-1 at RB Leipzig on Wednesday to leave them with two defeats out of three in the Champions League group stage.
They had not lost more than one group game in any of the eight previous seasons in the Champions League, a run that started soon after the takeover of the club by Qatar Sports Investments and the transformation that came with it.
And while Tuchel has led PSG back to the top of Ligue 1 with seven straight wins since they began the campaign with back-to-back defeats, it is in Europe where he is primarily judged.
Even before the Leipzig game, he raised eyebrows by suggesting in an interview with Sky Germany that he was unlikely to sign a new contract.
“When a coach goes into the final year of his contract and no discussions have taken place after what we have achieved, we can be open to all possibilities,” Tuchel said.
“But one must not dream either. We will see.”
He refused to expand on those comments after the Leipzig loss, but it has become an open secret that Tuchel does not see eye to eye with Leonardo, PSG’s powerful sporting director.
Tuchel was not appointed by Leonardo and there is a sense the Brazilian wants to bring in his own man, despite the current coach having taken Paris to their first ever Champions League final last season on the back of a clean sweep of domestic trophies.
“For a while I had this naive idea that after winning four titles…and getting to the Champions League final, that the coach would not be in the firing line for a while,” added Tuchel, who can be a prickly character.
And so, less than three months on from that final against Bayern Munich in Lisbon, Tuchel could even become the first PSG coach to leave mid-season since Antoine Kombouare was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti in December 2011.
This after he was sacked by Dortmund in 2017 having fallen out with the club’s CEO, Hans-Joachim Watzke, despite winning the German Cup only a few days earlier.
For now a win at home to third-place Rennes on Saturday would take some of the focus off the coach and move PSG six points clear of their opponents.
Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are on the sidelines, though, along with a host of other key players.
Player to watch: Wissam Ben Yedder
Ben Yedder’s tally of six Ligue 1 goals has been bettered only by Mbappe (7) so far. That is after he finished level with Mbappe on 18 goals at the top of the scorers chart in the last, curtailed campaign.
The 30-year-old has just been called up to the latest France squad for matches this month and is set to add to his 10 caps.
Before that the ex-Sevilla player will be the main threat for Monaco in the Cote d’Azur derby against Nice, who are without defensive talisman Dante after he suffered a serious knee injury.
4 – The number of points, out of a possible 27, collected by France’s three representatives — PSG, Marseille and Rennes — halfway through this season’s Champions League group stage. The sole win so far came for PSG against Istanbul Basaksehir.
3 – PSG have lost just six home league games in the last eight years, but three of those defeats have come against Rennes.
56 – Neymar has featured in exactly half of the 112 Ligue 1 games PSG have played since signing the Brazilian in 2017. He is again sidelined this weekend.
Strasbourg v Marseille (2000)
Bordeaux v Montpellier (1600), Paris Saint-Germain v Rennes (2000)
Brest v Lille (1200), Lens v Reims, Lorient v Nantes, Metz v Dijon, Nimes v Angers (all 1400), Nice v Monaco (1600), Lyon v Saint-Etienne (2000)