Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, who remains out of work, has become an ambitious target for Portuguese giants Benfica.
Pochettino was sacked by Spurs in November following a poor run of form that had begun the previous season, although it was still only six months after the Argentine had guided the club to its first ever Champions League final.
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It is thought that the agreement as part of Pochettino’s dismissal entitling Spurs to an estimated £12.5m in compensation if he took another job this season expired on 31 May – by which time the campaign would ordinarily have finished were it not for the lengthy coronavirus suspension.
Pochettino has most heavily been linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid over the last couple of years, although neither job shows any sign of being available in the near future as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Zinedine Zidane both now appear more secure in their respective jobs.
The 48-year-old has previously ruled himself out of ever taking the job at Barcelona out of respect for his long-term attachment to city rivals Espanyol, where he was a player and later manager. For similar reasons, he has also ruled himself out of ever becoming Arsenal boss.
Opportunities for a coach of Pochettino’s standing and reputation therefore look slim and Portuguese outlet Record suggests Benfica will make a concerted effort to appoint him.
It is claimed that Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira has already initiated contact with Pochettino’s camp and would be willing to offer him a substantial salary to move to Lisbon. Incumbent Benfica boss Bruno Lage has only been in charge since 2019 after stepping up from his role as Benfica B coach, but he is in danger of seeing Porto crowned Primeira Liga champions this season.
In April, Pochettino admitted that he feels he has unfinished business at Spurs and wants to return to the club at some point before he retires.
“It was an amazing journey that finished the way no one wanted it to finish. But deep in my heart I am sure our paths will cross again,” Pochettino revealed at the time.
“From the day I left the club, my dream is to be back one day and to try to finish the work we didn’t finish. We were so close to winning the Premier League and Champions League.
“Of course, I am looking forward to moving on and I am so motivated for the next project. But deep inside I want to go back because the fans are so special. Maybe in five years, maybe in 10 years, but before I die, I want to manage Tottenham.”