Mauricio Pochettino and Antonio Conte top PSG targets for new manager – sources
PARIS — Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea’s Antonio Conte are the two highest names on Paris Saint-Germain’s shortlist to replace manager Unai Emery, sources close to the French club have told ESPN FC.
Emery’s contract expires in the summer and he missed the chance to extend that deal when PSG were comfortably beaten by Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday.
Sources said the thought at PSG for some time has been that Emery will be replaced by Pochettino, with the only question being when a move will be made.
PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi — who distanced himself from the Madrid defeat — is under pressure to move quickly after Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of Qatar and founder of club owner Oryx Qatar Sports Investments, left the Parc des Princes before the final whistle.
It is not expected that Emery’s contract will be renewed, and Al-Khelaifi will now focus on PSG’s next move.
Sacking the coach before the end of the season has not been ruled out, the sources said, with assistants Maxwell and Zoumana Camara potential interim managers.
But Pochettino and Conte are the main names on Al-Khelaifi’s list of prospective long-term replacements.
The sources said Conte is interesting PSG because of his ability to produce short-term success, an appealing prospect after consecutive eliminations from the Champions League in the round of 16.
However, Al-Khelaifi is not keen on a short-term focus and is looking at two of PSG’s recent European conquerors — Real and Manchester City — for inspiration, although he is not directly targeting their managers.
Al-Khelaifi, the sources said, wants either somebody capable of commanding the respect of the players to produce better performances — akin to Madrid’s Zinedine Zidane — or somebody offering ideas to buy into, such as City’s Pep Guardiola.
Pochettino falls into the latter category and, as well as being a long-term option, has interested Al-Khelaifi for some time because of his desire to one day coach the club for which he once played.
The sources also confirmed multiple reports that PSG sporting director Antero Henrique is keen on the available Andre Villas-Boas after they worked together at Porto. However, not all of PSG’s decision-makers are convinced.
Henrique’s position is not 100 percent secure, with Al-Khelaifi considering broader changes than just the appointment of a new coach.
In the event that Henrique goes as part of a shake-up, the sources indicated that Al-Khelaifi would be more open to a return for Carlo Ancelotti because the Italian’s desire for a significant say over transfers would grate with the sporting director.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.