If Pochettino deal falls through, former Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez expected to return to St James' Park
Wednesday 29 April 2020 23:21, UK
Mauricio Pochettino is Newcastle's prospective new owners' number one choice to be the next manager at St James' Park and they are willing to pay him £19m a year to take charge of the club.
The former Tottenham manager, out of work since last November, is keen on a return to the Premier League and is known to be interested in the role.
Steve Bruce will remain as manager until the end of the current campaign, although it remains unclear as to when that will be.
The likelihood is that the Argentine would take charge once the season has concluded.
No decision from Pochettino or the Saudi-backed consortium is expected before the Premier League determines whether to allow the £300m takeover of the club from Mike Ashley.
Newcastle's prospective owners have been impressed by the rebuilding project carried out by Pochettino during his five-year tenure at Spurs, taking them to the Champions League final in 2019.
They believe he is the perfect candidate to help transform Newcastle into one of Europe's top clubs over the next five years.
If the Pochettino deal falls through, former Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, now managing at Dalian Yifang in the Chinese Super League, is expected to return to St James' Park.
Benitez has also made no secret of his wish to manage in the Premier League again.
However, Newcastle's potential new owners may have to dig even deeper to tempt him away from his £12m-a-year after tax contract in China.
After tax, Pochettino would be earning around £10m a year. In gross terms, that would put Pochettino ahead of Jose Mourinho - his successor at Spurs presently earns £15m a year.
Pep Guardiola would remain the highest-paid manager in the Premier League, grossing £20m a year, with his contract due to end in the summer of 2021.
Five months on from leaving the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Pochettino and his backroom staff remain on gardening leave, with the Argentinian still reportedly being paid his £8.5m a year (gross) wages.
Graeme Souness has warned the appointment of a "bigger name" as Newcastle manager will not guarantee success at St James' Park.
The former Newcastle boss told The Football Show: "I think if the takeover does happen, I think Steve Bruce should be [in the dugout]. I think they should give him a crack as he's done a fantastic job up there with limited resources under pressure all the time.
"I've been in that job and it's difficult. I think he's performed really well, but as is the way in football, new people coming in will want their own men and that will be right across the football club.
"They'll want to do things differently, and I would imagine they'll be wanting someone who's deemed to be a sexier name, a bigger name. Someone who's maybe done a bit more in the game. That doesn't guarantee them success.
"As always, it will come down to what players they'll be able to attract there, and if they get a big budget to work with. I still think attracting the best players up to Newcastle will be difficult unless you pay them way beyond the going rate."
Pochettino admitted in February he would love to return to the world of Premier League management.
In a chat with Sky Sports' Natalie Pinkham for the In The Pink podcast, Pochettino said: "To be honest, I would love to work in the Premier League. It's going to be difficult, I know, and for now it's a moment to wait and we'll see what happens.
"It's a moment of recovery, to think about yourself a little bit, and to be ready because in football always something can happen and you need to be ready.
"I'm ready and waiting for a new challenge. I have the belief and confidence that the next challenge will be fantastic."
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