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Barcelona may force Man Utd into making Mauricio Pochettino approach

Barcelona are reportedly exploring the prospect of hiring Mauricio Pochettino as Ernesto Valverde’s replacement. So, if Manchester United still admire the Argentine, they have to strike now.

Barcelona could spark Man Utd into life over Mauricio Pochettino (Image: GETTY)

Barcelona are set to sack Ernesto Valverde. They’ve decided that, after two-and-a-half successful yet disappointing years, it’s time to hire someone else. And despite Mauricio Pochettino previously ruling out taking over at the Nou Camp, he appears to be on their radar.

Pochettino was asked about potentially managing Barcelona back in 2017, when he was still Tottenham manager.

And he emphatically ruled it out, saying: “I am an Espanyol supporter. I don’t think I need to speak too much.

“In football I know it is so difficult to keep your values and to be loyal – with your heart and emotion.

“But for me before being a manager, before being a player, being loyal is more important. I am an Espanyol fan. I love Espanyol.”

However, while Pochettino’s loyalty should be admired, that may not deter Barcelona from going for him.

The Catalan giants are full of admiration for the Argentine and the work he did at Tottenham prior to his sacking in October.

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Barcelona interest in Mauricio Pochettino could see Man Utd sack Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Image: GETTY)

They believe he’d be a manager capable of coaxing more from Lionel Messi, despite the Argentina international already operating at the peak of his powers.

And they also reckon Pochettino would be able to build a successful legacy at the Nou Camp if he were to come in.

However, news of Barcelona’s interest in the former Tottenham boss may alarm United.

Publicly and privately, they’ve insisted they’re behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. They think he’s the right man for the job, despite mixed results this season.

But there are some within the club that believe Pochettino should be given the job instead.

Sir Alex Ferguson, certainly, is a huge admirer.

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Barcelona target Mauricio Pochettino has the backing of Man Utd hero Sir Alex Ferguson (Image: GETTY)

He actually wanted Pochettino to get the United job before they hastily made Solskjaer permanent boss back in March last year.

And he is still of the opinion that Pochettino has the traits required to succeed at Old Trafford, despite Solskjaer being one of his own players.

Ed Woodward also likes Pochettino.

He is the one behind Solskjaer the most but even he is aware that, with the former Tottenham boss currently available, it represents a fine opportunity.

As we’ve already mentioned, United have no plans to axe Solskjaer.

But if Barcelona make a move for Pochettino, that may force them into changing tact.

Because, should the Argentine suddenly take a job at an elite European giants, that gives United little choice but to stand by Solskjaer - even if things worsen.

Massimiliano Allegri is available but the Juventus icon doesn’t necessarily fit the club’s DNA.

They admire Julian Nagelsmann but there’s a realisation that the RB Leipzig manager isn’t going anywhere just yet.

And United would be out of options. Pochettino to Barcelona still seems unrealistic but, given his close relationship with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, it can’t be ruled out.

Should Pochettino move to the Nou Camp it could also mean him staying there for years to come.

Barcelona never wanted Pep Guardiola or Luis Enrique to depart and they hoped Valverde would be there for the long term.

And the fear of that happening could also prompt United into making an approach.

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