Real Madrid want shock move for Premier League boss if Ancelotti fails?

Pochettino

Real Madrid have reportedly prepared for the scenario where the club finishes third and La Liga – by lining up Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager.

Los Blancos are currently sat behind rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid in the La Liga table right now, but the race for the title is incredibly tight, with just three points separating Real from Atletico. Having spent £86m on Spurs sensation Gareth Bale last summer, as well as adding Isco and Asier Illiarramendi, there was a reasonable expectation that new manager Carlo Ancelotti would be able to bring the La Liga title back to the Santiago Bernabeu.

And whilst there is almost half of the season still to play, the Real hierarchy have reportedly drawn up a three-man shortlist to replace the former Chelsea, Milan and Paris Saint-Germain in case they don't clinch either the La Liga or Champions League crown.

The list contains assistant coach and sporting director Zinedine Zidane, who spent five seasons as a player with the club before returning to the club, as well as Athletic Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde and Southampton's Pochettino, whose future was thrown into doubt when chairman Nicola Cortese resigned from his role with the Saints.

Pochettino said in 2013 that "of course I would not continue if Nicola Cortese weren't here", suggesting the two were incredibly close at the club, and Cortese's exit ramped up speculation that Pochettino could leave the club – and an approach from Real Madrid, one of the world's biggest clubs, could push him closer to the exit door, and in doing so, a return to Spain.

Having finished his playing career with Espanyol, 41-year-old Pochettino took his first steps into management in 2009, taking over from Mané with the Barcelona-based side. Pochettino's time with the club was slightly up-and-down, enjoying great success initially but ending in poor results after the sales of Victor Ruiz, Didic Vila, Jose Maria Callejon and Dani Osvaldo.

But he has more than rebuilt his reputation on the South Coast, taking the Saints to the next level in the Premier League, all whilst harnessing the young talent within the club. As a result, there will no doubt be a long list of suitors who are watching on in envy, but does Pochettino have what it takes to manage Los Galacticos, one of the world's biggest clubs where success is expected regularly?

The step from Southampton to Real Madrid appears huge, and even with the upheaval in the boardroom, Pochettino would be best served continuing to build at Southampton – but as we all know, the lure of Real Madrid may just be too much for the Argentine, and he was incredibly coy about the speculation, as he said "I don’t like to talk about rumours and intangible things" during his press conference today, attempting to play down the rumours without completely closing the door on a move - which will no doubt ramp up the rumours of his exit.

image: © Living In Pixels

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch