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10 Jun, 2022 14:48

Zidane set for imminent coaching return – reports

Reports claim that the French icon will take a managerial assignment in his homeland
Zidane set for imminent coaching return – reports

Reports around the football world have claimed that Zinedine Zidane is set to become Paris Saint-Germain's new first team coach ahead of the 2022/2023 Ligue 1 season.

The Qatari-backed giants are currently managed by Mauricio Pochettino, who despite winning back the French top flight title from Lille last term has been unpopular due to a last-16 exit in the Champions League to eventual winners Real Madrid as well as being unable to extract the best form from Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

After snubbing Madrid and infuriating their president Florentino Perez by signing a new three-year deal with PSG, Mbappe is said to have carte blanche on how things are run at the Parc des Princes.

With sporting director Leonardo already sent packing and replaced by Luis Castro – who Mbappe knows from his days at Monaco – it has been widely reported that Pochettino leaving will be the next step in the PSG revolution. 

Mundo Deportivo claimed on Friday that PSG have already lined up ex-Madrid manager Zidane to take Pochettino's place in the coming days, which are claims that Europe 1 also made without citing a source on French radio. 

Goal have reported that there has been a breakthrough in negotiations between Zidane's representatives and PSG.

Yet according to Zidane's advisor, Alain Migliaccio, who spoke via L'Equipe, "all these rumors that are circulating are unfounded."

"To this day, I am the only person allowed to represent and advise Zinedine Zidane. Neither Zinedine Zidane nor myself have been contacted directly by the owner of PSG," he told the French sports newspaper.

Reporter Ben Jacobs, who was one of the most prominent voices on the Chelsea takeover recently, says that PSG are "weeks away from appointing a new manager."

Jacobs noted that Pochettino's exit is being discussed first with several candidates considered and not just Zidane, who isn't in Doha to sign a contract with a "bemused" PSG either.

Though the potential appointment of the three-time Champions League winner while manager at Real Madrid would delight PSG fans still waiting for their club to claim European football's elite trophy, it would be less well-received by supporters of the local club in Zidane's hometown.

Despite Zidane having never played for Marseille, where he was born to Algerian immigrant parents, him managing their sworn domestic rivals is being touted as a "betrayal."

The same term is being used by Madrid fans that are still hurt by the Mbappe saga, and who suggest that Zidane will tarnish his legacy built at the Bernabeu as a player and manager by taking the PSG hotseat.

A cooler head posed that Zidane "absolutely" has the right to sign for PSG and that Los Blancos fanatics "100%" have the right to be disappointed "that a legend like him is signing for PSG after what happened this summer between the two clubs".

"Rights work both ways," people were reminded.

Earlier this week, Pochettino was cool on his future and pointed out that, like star player Messi, he still has another year left on his contract. 

"I've been sacked every week," he added, in relation to constant rumors, to Catalan outlet Esport3. "Being at PSG brings with it that kind of thing."

"The club is trying to reinvent itself. The president [Nasser Al-Khelaifi] will soon explain his new project, but I am calm," the Argentine insisted.

"To get to PSG you have to be a good manager, and after one and a half years I feel like one of the best. Managing a dressing room with that many stars has been a daily learning experience," he went on.

For Zidane, however, who drove the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, among others, to eternal glory not once but three times, it might prove an easier task.