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Friday, January 22, 2021

Pochettino joins Paris Saint-Germain as coach after Tuchel sacking

French champion Paris Saint-Germain announced the hiring of coach Mauricio Pochettino on Saturday to replace the recently fired Thomas Tuchel.

The 48-year-old Pochettino was manager of Tottenham in the Premier League for five years and led the Spurs to the Champions League final in 2019.

“I am really happy and honored to become the new coach of Paris Saint-Germain,” Pochettino who has an option for a one-year extension in his contract, said in a statement released by the club.

“I would like to thank the club’s management for the trust they have placed in me. As you know, this club has always held a special place in my heart.

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“I have wonderful memories, especially of the unique atmosphere of the Parc des Princes. I return to the club today with a lot of ambition and humility, and am eager to work with some of the world’s most talented players.”

Pochettino inherits a squad that is talented but underperforming – by PSG standards. The Ligue 1 outfit starts the new year in third place behind Lyon and Lille. His first game in charge will be Wednesday at Saint-Etienne.

The Argentine played 95 games for PSG as a rugged central defender from 2001-03 and was appreciated by fans.

Tottenham fired Pochettino in November last year, only months after the Champions League final appearance, where Spurs lost 2-0 to Liverpool.

Similarly, Tuchel was fired four months after he led PSG to the Champions League final – losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

PSG finished 2020 just one point back in third place after beating Strasbourg 4-0 on Dec. 23, but Tuchel was questioned after the game about comments he made to German broadcaster SPORT1.

The German coach reportedly claimed that managing PSG was more akin to being a politician or a sports minister, such was the level of difficulty, and that he did not receive enough recognition for leading the club to its first Champions League final.

PSG has struggled at times this season with four league defeats. It fell short against its main rivals, losing 1-0 at home to Lyon and Marseille, and drawing 0-0 at Lille. It also lost two of the first three games in the Champions League but ended up advancing to the knockout stage by topping its group.

The season start was delayed after several players – including Neymar and captain Marquinhos – tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from a club-sanctioned trip to the Spanish party resort of Ibiza.

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