MADRID – Mauricio Pochettino is Real Madrid’s No 1 target to replace Zinedine Zidane if the French manager cannot turn around his side’s season.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Dele Alli are also on a list of summer targets as Madrid look to freshen up a squad that has become stale after three summers without a ‘galactico’ acquisition.
As Tottenham’s 3-1 win over Madrid reverberates around the continent, Zidane faces his first crisis since he took over a year and a half ago, and Pochettino is seen as the long-term solution.
Madrid are eight points behind Spanish league leaders Barcelona, and look set to finish second to Spurs in their Champions League group.
Real president Florentino Perez has an excellent relationship with Pochettino, referring to him as “my Poch” when Spurs drew 1-1 in Madrid two weeks ago.
“I have a lot of respect for Florentino,” Pochettino told Radio Marca. “I’m pleased if he feels the same way. He is always friendly towards me.”
Perez went to the Real dressing room after his team were taken apart by Pochettino’s men on Wednesday.
The Argentine would be a hugely popular choice with Real supporters, having said in the past he could never coach Madrid’s big rivals Barcelona because of his time spent across the city at Espanyol.
Zidane has won seven trophies in 19 months, but there are doubts about his ability to guide Real’s young squad.
The group would be improved by the addition of Kane and Alli, who impressed in Wednesday’s 3-1 win at Wembley. Tottenham would resist any sale and slap huge valuations on their star players.
Of the two, Alli is seen as more open to a move abroad. The key may rest with who represents him, with Jorge Mendes the front-runner.
Relations between super agent Mendes and Madrid are not as close as they were, but his involvement could still help push through a deal.
Alli’s family – the Hickfords, who have looked after him since he was a boy – have not ruled out appointing Mino Raiola, because he is more open to taking care of contracts and leaving them to manage Dele’s day-to-day affairs and PR.
Raiola’s appointment would bode less well for any switch to Spain.