By Salawudeen Olawale
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has quashed speculation linking him with the Barcelona job by insisting he could never manage the Spanish giants.
Pochettino was pictured meeting with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu in the Catalan city last week amid reports he is a leading contender to replace Luis Enrique when he leaves at the end of the season.
But the 45-year-old Argentine has already managed Barcelona’s city rivals Espanyol, as well as playing more than 200 games for them.
Pochettino, whose stock is high after leading Tottenham to second place in the Premier League this term, claimed his chat with Bartomeu was nothing to do with the Barcelona post and said he wouldn’t want to betray his old Spanish team by moving to the Nou Camp.
“It was true that there was a coincidence in a bar in Barcelona last Tuesday. I knew him for a long time before he was chairman at Barcelona,” Pochettino told reporters on Thursday.
“Many people say hello and you spend five minutes together. That’s the reality.
“I’m an Espanyol supporter. I don’t need to speak too much. If Daniel Levy sacks me in a few years and I’m free, it would be impossible to manage Arsenal.
“In football, it’s hard to keep loyal with your heart and emotion but I believe that before being a manager or a player, you should be loyal. I’m an Espanyol fan. I love Espanyol.”
Asked if that meant he would definitely not be taking over at Barcelona, Pochettino said: “I think my answer was very clear.”
Barcelona assistant manager Juan Carlos Unzue is the current leading contender to replace Enrique, while Athletic Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde is reported to be in contention.