Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, remaining out of work, has become an ambitious target for Portuguese giants Benfica.
In November, after a bad form run that had begun the previous season, Pochettino was sacked by Spurs but it was just six months after Argentina led the club to its first-ever Champions League final.
The agreement is believed to have expired on May 31 as part of Pochettino’s dismissal entitling Spurs to an estimated £ 12.5 million in compensation if he took up another job this season – by which time the campaign would normally end if not for long coronavirus suspension.
Pochettino has been closely linked with Manchester United and Real Madrid over the past couple of years, but neither job shows any indication of being open in the immediate future as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Zinedine Zidane both now seem happier in their respective jobs.
Previously, out of reverence for his long-term commitment to Espanyol city rivals, where he was a player and later manager, the 48-year-old ruled out ever taking on the role in Barcelona. He also ruled out, for similar reasons, from ever becoming Arsenal boss. So prospects for a standing Pochettino coach and legacy look slim and Portuguese media record suggests Benfica must make a concerted effort to hire him.
The president of Benfica, Luis Filipe Vieira, is rumored to have already established contact with the camp of Pochettino and to be able to give him a large salary to transfer to Lisbon. Incumbent Benfica manager Bruno Lage has been in charge only since 2019 after stepping up from his job as Benfica B coach but he is in danger of seeing Porto champions crowned Primeira Liga this season.
Pochettino revealed in April that he thinks he’s got unfinished business at Tottenham, and he hopes to return to the club at some stage before he retires.
Pochettino said: “It’s been an unforgettable ride that began the way no one expected it to end. Yet deep in my heart, I’m sure our paths will cross again,’ announced Pochettino at the time. Being back one day from the day I left the club, my dream is to try to finish the work we didn’t finish. We were so close to winning the Champions League and the Premier League. I’m looking forward to moving on, of course, and I’m so inspired for the next step. Yet I want to go back deep inside because the fans are so sweet. Maybe in 5 years, maybe in 10 years, but I want to manage Tottenham before I die.”