The Paris Saint-Germain sporting director, Leonardo, has insisted the club have not met with Zinédine Zidane and remain behind the manager, Mauricio Pochettino.
It has been a tumultuous week for PSG and Pochettino, after Manchester United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjær on Sunday. United have revived their long-standing interest in Pochettino and he has done little to discourage it, particularly when he was in Manchester for Wednesday night’s Champions League game at City, which his team lost 2-1.
PSG’s position has been that Pochettino, who is under contract until June 2023, is going nowhere during the season, although it had been suggested the situation could change if Zidane, out of work since his resignation from Real Madrid in May, were willing to join them now.
Leonardo has attempted to draw a line under the episode and restore stability at the club. It has been reported in France that PSG have held talks with Zidane.
“We don’t want Pochettino to leave,” Leonardo said. “He has never asked to leave and no club has contacted us about him. We have a lot of respect for Zinédine Zidane, for what he did as a player and coach, but I can tell you very clearly that there is no contact and that no meeting with him has taken place. It’s ridiculous to imagine that a meeting with Zinédine Zidane could have taken place in a big hotel in Paris in front of the eyes of everyone.”
United have moved to hire Ralf Rangnick as their interim manager until the end of the season and Pochettino would then be in the frame for the permanent job – which he would be interested in.
Pochettino has misgivings about aspects of the PSG project, notably the coherence of a recruitment strategy that he believes centres more on signing glamour names than on constructing a squad to fit his vision. He knew the sky-high expectations he would face but that has not made them any easier to bear.
Zidane has been reluctant to take a job midway through the season and his links to Marseille – the city of his birth – make any connection with PSG problematic.