Introducing Mauricio Pochettino: PSG boss calls job ‘dream come true’ and hails Neymar, avoids Messi rumors
Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino declared his happiness at returning to the French capital when he was unveiled by the French champions on Tuesday in what he considers “a dream come true.”
The Argentine played for PSG between 2001-03 with his second season as captain and returns as boss after a five-year spell in charge of Tottenham Hotspur ended in late 2019.
Speaking with the media for the first time since his appointment on the eve of his touchline debut away at AS Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1, Pochettino revealed his delight with the move and his hunger to win silverware.
“I am happy to be here,” said the 48-year-old. “The club has changed a lot, but the passion and the love are the same. It is like yesterday that I was playing here. I love and welcome the pressure to win with Paris.
“Joining PSG is a huge challenge, and everybody knows the potential here. I understand what PSG is and that I will work with world-class players — as I have done in the past. Paris has always been one of my goals and this is a dream come true.”
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Pochettino is very clear that PSG expect to remain serious challengers for the Champions League title after last season’s run to the final and the South American will be targeting a repeat of his 2018-19 feat of leading Spurs to the showpiece event.
The former Espanyol coach will get a quick return to Catalonia because of Les Parisiens’ European draw that has paired them with Barcelona in the round of 16 with the first leg away from home next month.
“The Champions League is important for PSG, as are other competitions,” he said. “We face Barcelona in a month, and we have to get to know each other and to build something. When everybody is fit, we will have a high-quality squad.”
PSG are one of the names regularly linked with a free transfer swoop for Barcelona legend Lionel Messi, as well as Inter Milan’s unwanted Christian Eriksen and Spurs’ Dele Alli — two players Pochettino knows well.
“Now is not the time to talk rumours,” said the Championnat giants’ new boss. “We are in constant contact with (sporting director) Leonardo. In a global sense, the reality is very complicated (for transfers) right now.
“Father Christmas already did a good job by bringing me here — to one of the world’s biggest clubs. I thank (Chairman and CEO) Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Leonardo for this opportunity. Big clubs like PSG always attract rumours but we will leave them to one side.”
Superstar Neymar was vocal in his desire to reunite with Messi before Christmas and Pochettino suggested that this has yet to be discussed at Parc des Princes where he has a contract until the summer of 2022 with an option for an additional year in the event of UCL qualification.
“I am still adjusting after three days in the job,” he said. “There will be time to think about that later. When Neymar returns, we will have to find the best position for him to perform. On his leadership, I think that there are many ways to show leadership. The more leaders I have in the dressing room and on the pitch, the better.”
Pochettino also wants to get the best out of France international Kylian Mbappe by experimenting with his positioning to identify the best possible role for the 22-year-old.
“My first impressions are that this PSG squad is incredible but that is nothing new,” he said. “Kylian can play in many different positions. He might start in one position and finish in another. The most important thing is how he exploits space and uses his quality. He is a top player.”
Pochettino also confirmed that Marquinhos will remain captain and is looking forward to starting his PSG coaching career away at Saint-Etienne against familiar foe Claude Puel.
“Marquinhos is the captain and will stay captain he said. “As for his role, these decisions will be made as we go along. It is not time to discuss this.
“I am expecting a complicated clash with ASSE, a team with a clear idea of how they want to play and a coach that I know well and admire. I happy to start there.”
PSG are away at ASSE on Wednesday before hosting Stade Brestois 29 in Ligue 1 on Saturday and then clashing with bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille in Lens for the Trophee des Champions next week.