Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has moved to put an end to speculation linking him with a switch to Barcelona this summer.
With current Barca manager Luis Enrique announcing that he will leave his post at the end of this season, the Argentinian has been strongly rumoured to be his replacement. Meeting with Barcelona’s president, Josep Bartomeu, in a bar in the Spanish city last week did not exactly aid in squashing the speculation.
Reports suggesting the Spurs boss is bound to take over the Nou Camp dugout have intensified since the sighting of the pair’s get together. However, Pochettino claimed the encounter with Bartomeu, with whom he has a friendship dating back 15 years, was not planned and a five-minute catch up was the extent of it.
Forced to give an explanation for the meeting with the Barcelona president amid most recent reports, ‘Poch’ told the media that his ties to Espanyol would rule out any possibility of him ever managing Messi and co. at the Nou Camp.
The former Southampton manager spent ten years as a player for Barca’s local rivals in which time he made 275 appearances altogether. He then went on to manage the club from 2009 to 2012, before making the switch to English football.
“It was a coincidence in a bar in Barcelona last Tuesday,” Pochettino said (via the Irish Times).
“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.”
Likening the situation to him leaving Spurs for bitter rivals Arsenal – a prospect the he also ruled out – the White Hart Lane gaffer expressed his intentions to remain true to his core values.
“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.”
No doubt these comments will further endear the 45-year-old to the Spurs faithful, having brought the north London club to another level in terms of consistency and challenging for honours.
With that being said, those supporters will be resting a little uneasily until the La Liga champions officially appoint someone other than Pochettino to succeed Enrique.
Aaron Ward, Pundit Arena