After weeks of being one of the worst kept secrets in European soccer, it is now official: Mauricio Pochettino is no longer Paris Saint-Germain head coach. The Argentine has been shown the door by the French giants along with sporting director Leonardo with Luis Campos of AS Monaco and Lille OSC fame now shaping the project and Christophe Galtier leading it on the pitch.
“Paris Saint-Germain confirm that Mauricio Pochettino has ended his role at the club,” read an official statement on Tuesday. “The Argentine coach and his team joined the club in January 2021. A former captain of the Rouge & Bleus, Pochettino took charge of 84 competitive games. Under his tenure, Paris Saint-Germain won the 2020 Trophée des Champions and the 2020/21 Coupe de France, as well as the club’s historic 10th Ligue 1 title last April. The club would like to thank Mauricio Pochettino and his staff for their work and wish them the best for the future.”
Galtier, who led the Lille OSC side which pipped PSG to the 2020-21 Ligue 1 title, replaces Pochettino in the French capital after an underwhelming 18-month spell at Parc des Princes with a 50% domestic cup success rate given that he secured one Championnat, Coupe de France and Trophee des Champions title apiece. The 50-year-old South American did manage one UEFA Champions League semifinal from two which can only be bettered by predecessor Thomas Tuchel, but the recent round of 16 exit at the hands of Real Madrid negates that somewhat.
Ultimately, the ex-PSG captain’s spell in France was a false dawn given that the emotional return of a former player who had spoken so highly of never truly materialized. However, where Pochettino was judged and failed to deliver was on the pitch with his only full season in charge bitterly disappointing despite the presence of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi in his squad.
The man from Murphy’s inability to stamp any real identity on this group of players meant that PSG never really felt like a Pochettino team, and he himself never felt like the best fit. Now, with some crucial silverware finally on his resume, which was always a long-standing criticism when linked with big roles in the past, Pochettino should be equipped to make his comeback with a reputable club in either England or Spain, where he remains highly thought of.
The Manchester United opportunity might have passed with Erik ten Hag now in charge at Old Trafford and Antonio Conte is leading Spurs’ assault on the UCL places, so the chances are that Pochettino will have to be patient and perhaps bide his time. Unai Emery learned the hard way that success post-PSG is not always immediate as it took the Spaniard through a disappointing Arsenal spell before finally rediscovering himself with Villarreal CF, who he led to an improbable Champions League semifinal and UEFA Europa League glory.
Thomas Tuchel did not waste much time in tasting success with Chelsea after taking over one month after losing his PSG job, but the German arrived at Stamford Bridge midseason instead of being axed in the summer and played a role in a difficult first half-season for Pochettino. Tuchel went on to win the Champions League with the Blues.
Given how Pochettino’s time with PSG played out, it will not be enough to put prestigious suitors off him entirely. However, it will increase the scrutiny with which he is judged in his next post as it will dictate how he is viewed in terms of elite consideration.