Tuesday 22 August 2017

Relief for Spurs fans as Mauricio Pochettino rules out ever managing Barcelona - or Arsenal

ENFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 30: Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham Hotspur during a training session on March 30, 2017 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)
ENFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 30: Mauricio Pochettino of Tottenham Hotspur during a training session on March 30, 2017 in Enfield, England. (Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images)

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino claims he could never join Barcelona due to his past at Espanyol just as it would be impossible for him ever to manage Arsenal.

Pochettino met Barcelona's president Josep Bartomeu last week at a bar in the Spanish city but the Argentinian insists it was a chance encounter and the pair have been friends for 15 years.

The get-together sparked renewed speculation, however, about Pochettino taking over at the Nou Camp, where current boss Luis Enrique has announced his decision to leave in the summer.

Pochettino appeared keen to avoid ruling himself out when asked about a potential switch earlier this month, even dismissing suggestions his links to Espanyol would scupper a move.

When asked on Thursday to clarify his meeting with Bartomeu, however, Pochettino brought previous club loyalties to the fore.

"It was a coincidence in a bar in Barcelona last Tuesday," Pochettino said.

"I know him for a long time before he became chairman of Barcelona. Many people around us, they have seen us to say hello, we spend five minutes together but that was the reality.

"You know the rumours after it's impossible to stop but I am an Espanyol supporter and I don't speak too much.

"If (Tottenham chairman) Daniel Levy sacked me in a few years, for me it would be impossible to manage Arsenal.

"In football I know it's difficult to keep values, to be loyal, have heart and emotion but for me it's more important to be honest.

"I am an Espanyol fan, I love Espanyol and now it is like that at Tottenham. For me it would be impossible one day to move to Arsenal, it would be impossible."

Asked if that meant he would not be taking over at Barcelona this summer, Pochettino said: "I think my answer was very clear."

Tottenham travel to Burnley on Saturday, with the players still in the dark about where they will be playing their home games next season.

Spurs were due to notify the Football Association by Friday whether they will take up the option to host matches at the national stadium but Press Association Sport understands that deadline has now been extended to the end of April.

"I understand. We must be sure we move," Pochettino said.

"I understand the club are very cautious about the situation but I am not worried, I am calm.

"I trust it will be sorted in the next few weeks and I trust this will be our last season at White Hart Lane."

Harry Kane began running again outside this week as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury but the striker will sit out the trip to Turf Moor, along with Danny Rose and Erik Lamela.

Rose was due to see a specialist on Thursday about his knee injury although Tottenham insist the appointment is a routine check-up and not an indication of uncertainty.

The club confirmed on Wednesday, however, that Lamela will not play again this season, with the winger set to undergo surgery in Barcelona on his hip.

Lamela has not played for Spurs since October 25.

"We were very conservative but it was impossible for him to fix the problem," Pochettino said.

"Now it's important to give all the support, all the love. Now it is not the player, it is the person - the human being is important now."

Kane's absence means Son Heung-min is likely to start up front again this weekend.

Son trained on Thursday, despite playing 90 minutes for South Korea in Seoul 48 hours before, while Vincent Janssen is struggling with a chest infection.

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