Reports stemming from Spain this evening have suggested that Barcelona are considering Mauricio Pochettino as a potential replacement for Ernesto Valverde.
The Blaugrana returned to action following the Christmas break last night.
Valverde’s men visited Catalan rivals Espanyol, for a derby La Liga clash.
The visitors entered proceedings hoping to maintain their 2-point advantage over Real Madrid atop the Spanish top-flight.
Espanyol, on the other hand, sat dead bottom of the table ahead of kick-off at the RCDE Stadium, having amassed an abysmal 10 points from 18 fixtures.
As such, Barca were understandably viewed as heavy favourites to emerge victorious versus their long-time rivals.
When all was said and done, however, the Spanish champions failed to get the job done.
Espanyol took the lead with 23 minutes on the clock, courtesy of David Lopez, before a quickfire double from Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal following the interval turned the clash on its head.
Frenkie de Jong’s needless dismissal 15 minutes from time, though, saw the momentum shift once more, eventually resulting in substitute Wu Lei securing a share of the spoils for the hosts in the 88th-minute.
Highlights: Espanyol 2-2 Barcelona
Valverde on the ropes
Barca’s result, but perhaps more so their altogether-lacklustre display last night, has since seen the finger of blame pointed largely at Ernesto Valverde.
While Frenkie de Jong’s sending off undoubtedly cost the Blaugrana, the seemingly-aimless tactical approach of the Catalan heavyweights from the off, a trait which has defined so many of the club’s outings this season, proved extremely concerning.
Despite still sitting joint-top of the La Liga table, and having secured their spot in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, Barca have looked some way off their best throughout the campaign.
As such, the last 24 hours have unsurprisingly once again seen pressure begin to mount on Ernesto Valverde.
Large sections of the Spanish champions’ fanbase have long lost patience with their side’s boss, with the majority now seemingly in favour of a change at the helm at the Camp Nou.
As such, the reliable Francesc Aguilar of Mundo Deportivo has this evening provided an update on the potential appointment of one tactician in particular.
The manager in question is Mauricio Pochettino.
‘Poch’ is of course out of work at present, having been sacked by Tottenham late last year.
Aguilar, though, hints that the Argentine could soon return to the dugout.
It is claimed that those in charge at Barcelona, including president Josep Bartomeu, are in favour of Pochettino’s hiring.
What stands in the former Spurs boss’ way, however, is his past.
Pochettino previously managed Espanyol, and has suggested that he would, as a result, not be open to taking over at the Camp Nou.
En la secretaría técnica del Barça, gusta mucho Mauricio Pochettino (idea que cuenta con el beneplácito del presidente JM Bartomeu), pero dudan seriamente si la afición barcelonista sería capaz de perdonarle toda la serie de opiniones filo madridistas y su pasado espanyolista.
— Francesc Aguilar (@FApor_elmundo) January 5, 2020