PARIS, France — Paris Saint-Germain have confirmed the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino as head coach after making Thomas Tuchel's departure official earlier this week.
Tuchel, a 47-year-old German, won six pieces of domestic silverware in his 2.5-year stint at Parc des Princes. Pochettino, a 48-year-old Argentine, arrives with no major trophies to his name but history as a PSG player between 2001-03 with the final of those seasons as captain. "Poch" managed Espanyol, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur for a decade before being removed in 2019 by Spurs.
Both Tuchel and Pochettino have guided sides to the two most recent Champions League finals with the former beaten by Bayern Munich with the Ligue 1 giants and the latter defeated by Liverpool -- who PSG finished ahead of in the group stage -- as Tottenham Hotspur boss in 2018-19.
"We are very pleased to welcome Mauricio as first team coach," said PSG Chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi in an official statement. "I am proud to see our former captain returning to PSG, as the Club has always remained his home. The return of Mauricio fits perfectly with our ambitions and it will be another exciting chapter for the club and one I am positive the fans will enjoy. With the appointment of Mauricio, PSG is committed to continue to build and move the club forward over the coming years."
Pochettino returns to the French capital with a contract until the end of the 2021-22 campaign with an option for an additional year.
Having tasted 2001 Intertoto Cup success with Les Parisiens, Pochettino will have his first chance to win some silverware when PSG face Olympique de Marseille for the Trophee des Champions in mid-January at RC Lens' Stade Bollaert.
10 - Mauricio Pochettino will become the 10th @PSG_inside's manager to have played for the club before, after Jean-Michel Larqué, Ilija Pantelic, Camille Choquier, Luis Fernandez, Ricardo, Vahid Halilhodzic, Laurent Fournier, Paul Le Guen & Antoine Kombouaré. Home. https://t.co/D7vkDov3k4— OptaJean (@OptaJean) January 2, 2021
"I am really happy and honored to become the new coach of Paris Saint-Germain," Pochettino said. "I would like to thank the Club's management for the trust they have placed in me. As you know, this club has always held a special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories, especially of the unique atmosphere of the Parc des Princes.
"I return to the Club today with a lot of ambition and humility, and am eager to work with some of the world's most talented players. This team has fantastic potential and my staff and I will do everything we can to get the best for PSG in all competitions. We will also do our utmost to give our team the combative and attacking playing identity that Parisian fans have always loved."
Pochettino's first match in charge is away at AS Saint-Etienne next week with the ex-Argentina international due to meet his players when training resumes this weekend and a return to Catalonia is also on the cards with PSG taking on Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 in February.
"I am very happy to be here," Pochettino later added in an interview with PSG TV. "I think that it is an amazing opportunity and an amazing project. To be involved with PSG is fantastic. I think it is so exciting to be here and start to build this relationship again. I always followed PSG after playing here.
"I have fond memories of my years here, those games at night at the Parc des Princes in front of the fans. I cannot wait to welcome them back into the stadium and I look forward to seeing them in there. I always had very good relationship with them, the supporters -- Paris is one of the biggest clubs in the world and winning is not enough for a club like this.
"You need to win, of course, but by playing well. The players here are some of the best here -- they are stars, and it is really important that they love what they do on the pitch."
One of Pochettino's first tasks will be to figure out the best way to accommodate the likes of superstar pair Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in attack while also deciding about Angel Di Maria's future with his contract expiring this summer.
"I would say I am close to my players," he said about his new squad. "I expect a lot from them, and I like it when it is like a friendship between the players and the whole staff. I want everyone involved with the club, the stadium and the training centre to feel like a big part of the project.
"In this club it has always been about excellence -- the players have to deserve to wear the jersey. I think that it is a fantastic squad and I think that we can accomplish what this club and the players want because they are competitors, and they want to lift trophies.
"Our main goal is to make sure everyone is heading in the same direction. We want to put a mentality in place, a philosophy and that everyone takes part. The idea is for everyone to want to win for the club more than anything else. We want to be a strong club with a strong structure."