When talking about Mauricio Pochettino, you’re definitely talking about a progressive thinker who honed his managerial career at his beloved Espanyol, broadened his managerial experience at Southampton, and went on to show the football world how well he has grown in his managerial career at Tottenham Hotspur.
The Argentine-born manager can be said to be the alpha and omega, or an orchestra, that orchestrated the story of Tottenham from been a serial bottler, opting from one manager to another with no clear identity. But with him, the club became a genuine challenger in the Premier League, and the Champions League with a formidable defense, vibrant and a swashbuckling brand of football that took them to the final of the UEFA Champions League.
It’s no news that Pochettino was also a footballer before he became a manager, just like some of the fast-rising football manager in world football now. He began his managerial career with Espanyol in 2008 as an assistant manager with the Espanyol Women’s team, and a year later he became the senior manager of Espanyol, a team struggling to survive in the Spanish League, and surprisingly he managed the ‘Blanquiazules’ to incredible results.
The 2008-09 campaign it’s one ugly season that seemed almost certain that Espanyol would be heading to the relegation. The ‘Blanquiazules’ was a club in trouble and also languishing in the relegation water, with the manager at the touchline before him managing the team. And as the situation of the team keeps getting worse, the Espanyol management put their faith in hands of their former player, young and aspiring manager, following the dismissal of his predecessor.
Surprisingly, the young and aspiring manager became the messiah that would go on to turnaround the ugly and porous season of Espanyol. In his first season, he led the ‘Blanquiazules’ to 10th position on the log in the Spanish league against all odds, considering the fact that the club were facing financial problems, yet Pochettino saved the day for Espanyol.
One unique thing that gave Pochettino an edge over other managers is how well he managed his players, and how he also gave a huge opportunity to young players who are ready to play for him and blend seamlessly into his team, just like he did with Harry Kane at Tottenham Hotspur.
That exactly how he started with the Espanyol players bringing them from the academy into the first team and going on to give him top-notch performance, which was evident in their positive result against Pep Guardiola’s team Barcelona.
After four years of managing the ‘Blanquiazules‘, the end to his managerial stint at Espanyol wasn’t a good one, as the team, good performances when he took over in the league started dwindling and questionable, which pushed them further down to the bottom of the league.
As such as the situation of the team keeps getting worse, Pochettino and the club management decided to part ways on mutual terms in 2012, a year the Argentine gaffer wouldn’t forget in a hurry, and amidst clear disappointment amongst the club’s fans at his departure, he said:
“I have waived the final year of my contract, but I will always be available for Espanyol if needed in the future”.
Following Pochettino’s departure from Espanyol, he took some time away from the game, in other to learn from his mistakes, and also reflect on what he’s done right and wrong to prepare him well for what to come in his next managerial position. Surprisingly after two months of his exit at Espanyol, he was offered the managerial position at Southampton to replace Nigel Adkins, in their quest to rebuild the team and the philosophy.
The unexpected dismissal of Adkins and the coming of Pochettino didn’t really go down well with the fans of the club, because at that time ‘the saint’ side was a club relatively doing well under Adkins in the league. They weren’t expecting such change at that moment, but surprisingly the change in managerial position proved to be the right decision that took the club to the next level, with all the players seamlessly fitting well into his philosophy.
At the time Pochettino kick starts his reign at St Mary, he developed and improved the performances of the players, such as former Liverpool’s Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne who was signed from Crystal Palace, and former United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin. With that, he was been noticed by different clubs in the league as one decent manager that could do much better with a bigger team, which showed how well he’s been growing as a manager.
Unfortunately for Southampton, their fairytales run in the league and what seems like an empire they were building with Pochettino in the dugout came to an end when Tottenham Hotspur came calling. Having seen how good he was tactically, and how strong his man-management prowess is, at that time the London side were struggling under Tim Sherwood, and to some extent under former Porto manager Andre-Villas Boas, with that Daniel Levy brought in the Argentine head the affairs of the team in the 2014/15 season.
After a fifth-place finish in his first campaign, Tottenham challenged Leicester City for the title in 2015/16 and finished third on the log, achieving their highest Premier League finish and returning to the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2010/11.
The Argentine gaffer penned a new five-year contract extension in May 2016, with his official title changing from head coach to manager.
The London club continued their progress, finishing second and third again in the following two seasons while reaching the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in 2017/18. Pochettino was rewarded with another five-year contract in May 2018.
Tottenham Spurs then reached their first UEFA Champions League final following a memorable comeback against Ajax in the closing moments of their semi-final in Amsterdam. Spurs kneeled to a 2-0 loss at the hands of Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League final, and a difficult and extremely disappointing start to the 2019/20 Premier League campaign placing Spurs 14th on the log led to Pochettino departing the club on November 19, 2019.
And since then the former Southampton gaffer has been out of a job, now the question on every football enthusiast lips is where is the next destination for Pochettino?
With almost all the big clubs in Europe settled with good managers in their realm, and the only club which looks to be struggling in appointing a new boss is the Spanish giant. However, Barcelona has finally looked in the direction of one of their former player in Ronald Koeman who would take over from Quique Setien once he’s been announced officially as the new manager.
Another team that might also excite Pochettino is Juventus, but unfortunately, they’ve also appointed one of their former player in Andrea Pirlo, following the dismissal of Mauricio Sarri.
The only option for the former Espanyol coach is to wait patiently for his window. Perhaps, one of the top managers in some of the top clubs would have a terrible spell, and eventually, lose their job. If that didn’t happen soon, the Argentine manager might have to wait for another season to get a bigger club compared to what Tottenham offered him, or perhaps opt for a decent team in the mold of the London side.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.
Top 15 Highest Paid Players In Ligue 1
Ligue 1 no doubt harbors quite a number of talented players, as such it’s quite understandable for those considered to be world-class players among them to cash out hugely on what they earn at the end of the month.
As of late, the players’ salaries have given indications of solid development, on account of the tremendous income pouring into the game. The fierce rivalry between the country’s top football clubs has brought the nature of the competition higher than ever. The league has more than its own fair share of highly paid players.
Here is a rundown of the top 15 highest-paid players in the Ligue 1
- Neymar Jr – (Paris Saint Germain, – €3.06 Per Month )
Behind Ronaldo and Messi, the Brazilian forward is regarded as the third-best player in world football since moving from Santos to Barcelona in 2013 for a deal reported worth €86.2million.
After apparently growing and widening his status as a footballer with his achievement on and off the pitch, it was evident that the former Puskas Award winner would go on to attract top elite clubs.
With the Parisian club brimming with a lot of cash to flex muscles with high spending clubs, it was just a matter of time before Neymar would join them. Fast forward to 2017, the Selecao captain signed for PSG for a world record transfer fee worth €222million, and since then he’s been an important figure of both the club and their project.
Amidst transfer rumors of him returning to his old home Barcelona, plus the fact that the Parisian are also ready to offer him a new deal that would tie him down with the French side for at least another three seasons.
- Kylian Mbappe – (Paris Saint Germain, € 1.91m Per Month)
As a World Cup winner and one of the best prospects in world football, it’s quite understandable for Mbappe to be among the highest-paid players in Ligue 1 and Paris Saint Germain. The 2018 World Cup winner burst into the scene as a young player for Monaco, making his professional debut in 2015 at the age of 15.
The Frenchman signed for the Parisian club in 2017 on loan, which was later made permanent in 2018. He has shown to be a great prospect for both the club and their project in dominating the Ligue 1 and also flex muscles with the top clubs in Europe.
His permanent transfer to Paris Saint Germain is reported to be worth €180million, making him both the second most expensive player and most expensive teenager. Since joining the Ligue 1 Champions permanently, the 22-year-old has scored over 120 goals for the Parisian club.
However, amidst the rumor of Real Madrid prepping up to break the bank in their quest to bring him down to the Bernabeu, the World Cup winner is still actively the second biggest earner in the league and of course Paris Saint Germain.
- Correa Marquinhos & Marco Verratti – (Paris Saint Germain, €1.2m Per Month)
Since the departure of top players such as Edinson Cavani, Zlatan, and recently Thiago Silva, Marquinhos’s status has risen from being a mere squad player in the dressing room into a leader, captain, and one of the best gladiator of the club.
As a 19-year-old teenager, the Brazilian was signed in 2013 on a five-year deal by Paris Saint Germain from AS Roma for a fee of around €31.4million. And as reported by BBC Sport, the deal was said to be the highest transfer fee for a teenager then, while Sky also reports it to be the then fifth highest transfer.
The current form of the Brazilian makes him rank as one of Europe’s most valuable players, most especially as a player who is currently plying his trade with the best team in France.
According to the transfer market rating, Marquinhos market value currently stands at €70million, as such with his years of experience and playing over 313 matches for the Parisian, it’s no surprise that the club captain takes home €1.2m per month tied with the Italian on the same amount.
As for the Italian, he’s also been a very instrumental player for the team since joining the club nine years ago. There have always been rumors concerning his future, either joining Barcelona or go back to Italy, but as it stands his current contract with Paris Saint Germain would expire in 2024.
- Angel Di Maria – (Paris Saint Germain, €1.1m Per Month)
Since joining the Parisian for €63million after a disappointing stint with Manchester United in 2015, the Argentine winger has continued to prove to the world that he’s still one of the best players in football since leaving Real Madrid.
Di Maria isn’t just rank among the highest earner for doing nothing, he earns his pay through his brilliant performances over the years since joining them, accumulating a total of 251 appearances scoring over 88 goals and 104 assists.
The former Real Madrid winger may not stay in the Ligue 1 with Paris Saint Germain for three years or more, as he’s already moving close to the end of his career. However, with his deal still running that makes him the fourth-highest earner in the league.
- Keylor Navas – (Paris Saint Germain, €1m Per Month)
When Navas joined Madrid from Levante in the summer of 2014, no one ever thought he’s going to achieve quite a number of success with Los Blancos based on where he was coming from and his antecedent as a goalkeeper.
After a successful stint with Los Merengues, the imminent arrival of Thibaut Courtois means the Costa Rican goalkeeper days at Real Madrid are numbered.
With his achievement at Real Madrid, it was evident that the Costa Rican won’t find it hard to get good European suitor to come by, as such Paris Saint Germain came calling for his services in 2019 having been told he won’t be Real Madrid number one going forward into the new season.
Following Navas’s move to the French capital, it means his salary would be on the high side based on his achievement and reputation as a Champions League winner with arguably the biggest club in Europe.
As a Paris Saint Germain player, he earns €1m per month, making the Costa Rican one of the highest-paid players in Ligue 1
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- Mauro Icardi – (Paris Saint Germain, €800,000 Per Month)
The imminent departure of El Matador when Icardi joined Paris Saint Germain on loan means the responsibility of goalscoring would be on the shoulder of the Argentine. The former Inter Milan forward made his loan permanent with the PSG following a strong start in Paris.
The Argentine and controversy certainly go hand in hand based on his antecedent with his previous clubs. Everywhere he goes he has always shown he could lead the line perfectly, and since he joined the Parisian permanently no report of controversy has been recorded concerning the former Nerazzurri captain.
Icardi may not be the poster boy of PSG just like his days at Inter, that doesn’t make him less of a player in the dressing room among other star players like Neymar and Mbappe who are no doubt the face of the club.
- Leandro Paredes – (Paris Saint Germain, €750,000 Per Month)
Juan Bernat – (Paris Saint Germain, €700,000 Per Month)
Presnel Kimpembe – (Paris Saint Germain, €670,000 Per Month)
Ander Herrera – (Paris Saint Germain, €650,000 Per Month)
Wissam Ben Yedder – (Monaco, €650,000 Per Month)
Cesc Fabregas – (Monaco, €600,000 Per Month)
Julian Draxler – (Paris Saint Germain, €600,000 Per Month)
Idrissa Guaye – (Paris Saint Germain, €500,000 Per Month)