Paris Saint-Germain sealed a record equaling 10th Ligue 1 title over the weekend with a 1-1 draw with RC Lens at Parc des Princes. It was enough to secure the only piece of silverware the French giants were left fighting for this campaign after UEFA Champions League and Coupe de France failure.
Immediately, attention turned towards the capital club’s future with Kylian Mbappe still unsure whether he will extend his stay with the club. There are also decisions to be made over the futures of both head coach Mauricio Pochettino and sporting director Leonardo.
Recent reports in France suggest that the Argentine’s exit is nearing which has been on the cards for some time. The latest continental setback in exiting the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid despite a largely superior performance made it an inevitability.
The Brazilian’s comments after confirmation of the latest Ligue 1 title suggested that he knows he could also be on borrowed time in Paris. However, it also hinted that a decision has not yet been made on his future and that is likely because of his involvement in numerous decisions.
So, for now, Pochettino is the most likely to leave Parc des Princes and could yet be followed by Leonardo depending on decisions taken by PSG’s Qatari owners who have been meeting regularly in recent weeks. Who, then, are the candidates to replace the South American?
The favorite for months now has been the legendary former France international who has been available since leaving Real Madrid for the second time. When Pochettino was linked with Manchester United midseason, Zidane quickly appeared to be the chosen successor.
While PSG’s feelings on the 49-year-old have not changed and having a Frenchman at the helm again would be a big boost to the club’s French image, Zidane himself has made no secret of his desire to lead Les Bleus which could become a possibility later this year depending on how France fare at the FIFA World Cup.
Will Didier Deschamps step away after Qatar? Does Zidane want to risk missing out on a prestigious post and probably the only realistic one in his homeland? If PSG action Pochettino’s exit and make him an offer, he will have a decision to make.
The Italian is currently developing into a credible lead given his frustrations with current club Tottenham Hotspur. The fact that he is current Spurs boss and the incessant links between Pochettino, and his former club suggests that some for of manager swap could be done — if pursued.
Would Conte be the best fit for PSG beyond the short-term, and is the serial winner prepared to throw in the towel in London without even overseeing a full season? There are more questions than answers at this stage, but it is enough to make it clear that the 52-year-old is not yet a frontrunner.
Few European clubs have not recycled one of their successful former bosses at least once but that is one of the quirks of PSG’s Qatari owners. Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc are both in that bracket and Thomas Tuchel could be too depending on what happens with Chelsea’s takeover.
The German can probably be swiftly discarded given that his exit was still recent which makes the Italian and the Frenchman the more likely candidates to make returns. While Ancelotti has remained moderately successful since he ended Real’s wait for La Decima after leaving PSG, Blanc has faded into obscurity.
Carletto, now 62, would be the sort of profile which appeals to Les Parisiens given his ability to command respect from high profile players but his complicated relationship with Leonardo would force the transfer guru’s exit and likely command strict return conditions given their first go.
A wildcard at this point but a logical one. Few former players in the Qatari era have moved into management and the Brazil-born former Italy international is the one with the most promising career ahead of him at this stage. Zoumana Camara is another one but almost certainly needs senior level experience first which makes Motta the sole ex-player candidate.
The 39-year-old’s forays into this new role have been mixed with failure at Genoa, although it’s a club where few have enjoyed any success recently, and current club Spezia on course to survive in Serie A despite extremely testing conditions. Could the former midfield schemer return to rejuvenate this PSG squad and propel himself up the coaching pyramid?