Could a Conte-Pochettino job swap really be on the cards?
LONDON — Antonio Conte’s time in the hot seat at Tottenham Hotspur could come to an unexpectedly early end this summer, with reports Monday that the Italian manager is eyeing a possible vacancy at the helm of Paris Saint-Germain.
That PSG job will only be available if reports that Mauricio Pochettino is set to be axed by the French club at the end of the season prove true. If so, that would open the door for Conte and Pochettino to essentially swap roles, with the Argentinian manager returning to his former role at Spurs.
Pochettino’s tenure at PSG has not been terrible — the club have once again secured the Ligue 1 title — but it certainly has not lived up to fans' expectations. PSG failed to win the Champions League, the French Cup or the French Super Cup, leaving French media confident the league win alone will not save Pochettino’s job.
With Pochettino’s departure seen as a sure thing, the question turns to who will replace him at the helm of the French giants. French newspaper Le Parisien reported over the weekend that Conte has offered himself up for the job, which would see him leave Spurs after only about eight months with the London club.
If Conte left, the logical next step would be for Tottenham to return once again to the tried and tested Pochettino who, in this scenario, will presumably be looking for a job. Spurs have tried to revisit the Pochettino era before, with the club reportedly also looking into re-signing him last year.
But as neat and tidy as the Conte-Pochettino job swap idea is, there are some major holes in this theory.
Firstly, Pochettino hasn’t been fired yet. This is probably the most minor issue, because chances are the French reports are right and winning the league alone isn’t enough to secure a future at a club that is home to Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and Sergio Ramos, but with Pochettino still in the job, anything else is purely speculation.
Secondly, nobody close to Conte has said anything to suggest the Le Parisien report that he has put himself forward for the PSG role is true. Although this isn’t really a surprise — Conte can’t exactly openly apply for other jobs while under contract at Spurs — it does suggest the report could be nothing more than rumor and speculation.
Thirdly, Conte is under contract for another season at Spurs and sources close to the club suggest there is no release clause that would allow him to easily jump ship early.
A more likely explanation, perhaps, is that a little PSG noise could help increase Conte’s leverage over Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy when it comes to spending this summer. Levy has been at odds with Spurs’ fans for years and the possibility of Conte leaving early will only heighten that, potentially allowing the Italian manager to call for a few more signings this summer.
Conte has repeatedly made it clear he has plans to push Spurs forward and he’ll undoubtedly need some funding this summer to take things further.
If that is Conte’s plan, it can only be good news for Spurs, although perhaps not for Pochettino.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]