Kylian Mbappe’s decision to remain at Paris Saint-Germain has reinvigorated the French champions heading into the summer.
It remains to be seen who’ll be lining up alongside him, and who will be occupying the Parisian dugout come the first match of 2022/23, but one thing is certain: it won’t be Mauricio Pochettino. The much-maligned tactician is set for chopping block after PSG agreed to part ways with him earlier this month.
Since their acquisition more than a decade ago, Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) have appointed no fewer than five permanent head coaches; each — Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc, Unai Emery, Thomas Tuchel and the aforementioned Pochettino — have won Ligue 1 silverware, but they’ve only got one Champions League final appearance to show for their time at the Parc des Princes.
That sole historic appearance came under Tuchel, but he would be ousted just four months after the Champions League final in 2020. When shown the door, who then succeeds Pochettino? Given their status — and with a forward line of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Mbappe to play with — there will be willing candidates.
PSG next permanent manager betting odds:
- Christophe Galtier – 1/10
- Zinedine Zidane – 6/1
- Ruben Amorim – 25/1
- Thiago Motta – 25/1
- Marcelo Gallardo – 25/1
- Jose Mourinho – 33/1
- Sergio Conceicao – 33/1
- Julen Lopetegui – 33/1
- Roberto Mancini – 33/1
Odds via Sky Bet and correct at the time of writing (15:00, 20/06/22). 18+ only. BeGambleAware
As touched upon, Pochettino succeeded Tuchel in January 2021 after the German tactician lost control of the Parisian ship. Partly due to his overachieving stint at Tottenham, where he regularly guided the Londoners to a top four Premier League finish and a European Cup final, the Argentine coach — who cites his former Newell’s Old Boys head coach Marcelo Bielsa as a tactical influence — was seen as the ideal choice.
However, a lack of silverware counted against him and a failure to overhaul Lille, the eventual 2020/21 Ligue 1 champions, increased the temperature on the PSG hot seat. He did successfully bounce back in the season just gone as PSG won the championship with a 15-point margin, but they disappointed in Europe again.
Christophe Galtier, who denied Pochettino the Ligue 1 crown in 2021, has emerged as a frontrunner. The current Nice head coach has reportedly fallen out with sporting director Julien Fournier who publicly told PSG if they want to recruit Galtier they must do so with haste as preparation for the new season is already underway. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi recently confirmed he is in talks with Nice over the possibility of hiring Galtier.
In an interview with Le Parisien, Al-Khelaifi said: “We have a shortlist of coaches, we are in talks with Nice, this is not a secret.”
The elite coaches meanwhile are happy at their present clubs and Pep Guardiola — the man they’d want — will not be leaving Manchester City anytime soon. Antonio Conte, on the other hand, may still leave Tottenham if the powers that be don’t back him, though Daniel Levy and Co look set to hand the Italian a £150m war chest.
Zinedine Zidane, who famously won three successive Champions League titles as Real Madrid manager, is being tipped to replace Didier Deschamps as France’s next boss but that shouldn’t completely rule him out of the PSG race.
The Frenchman has recently expressed his desire to get back into management, and refused to close the door on a move to the Parc des Princes. He told L’Equipe: “Never say never. Especially when you’re a coach nowadays.
“When I was a player, I could choose almost every club. As a coach, there aren’t 50 clubs I can go to. There are two or three possibilities.
“If I go back to a club, it’s to win. I say this in all modesty. That’s why I can’t go anywhere.”
An outside appointment comes in the guise of former PSG midfielder Thiago Motta. The 30-capped Italy international recently won a survival battle to keep Spezia in Serie A, and reports have since emerged that club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi is keen to hire Motta — who formerly presided over their U19 team — as Pochettino’s successor, with a view to hiring Guardiola in 2023. This opportunity has opened up more by Motta leaving Spezia in the summer.
Another name touted is Sporting CP boss Ruben Amorim. The Portuguese coach is reportedly sporting director Luis Campos’ choice.
Who is Ruben Amorim?
Amorim, much like the newly-appointed Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag, has long been viewed as one of the highest-rated and promising coaches outside Europe’s big five leagues. After inheriting the Sporting gig in March 2020, he would soon turn their fortunes around, building on a fourth-placed finish (albeit playing 11 games and winning six of those), Amorim ended the club’s 19-year championship drought before claiming a runners-up spot last time out.
Impressive results aside, it’s his work behind the scenes that has elevated Amorim’s status. Having no access to elite, world-class footballers, he’s become a champion of developing the next generation. Seen as Portugal’s most exciting coaching talent since Jose Mourinho, the Lisbon native prides himself on communication and enhancing those at his disposal. From a tactical standpoint his panache to utilise a back-three could play into PSG’s hand — Amorim predominately uses a 3-4-3, though on some occasions has fielded a two-striker formation — especially as it’s one of the few systems that could incorporate Messi-Neymar-Mbappe, while allowing the French champions to remain balanced and controlled in possession.
Under contract until 2024 with Sporting, any potential appointment would represent a huge gamble — more so than with Emery and Tuchel in the past. It should nevertheless create a seamless equilibrium between the dugout and front office seeing as he’s reportedly Campos’ ideal man on the touchline. Campos, who previously enjoyed the director of football job at Lille and Monaco, where his time in the principality overlapped with Mbappe’s, enjoys a strong bond with the forward and is expected to oversee wider recruitment.