Sunday 3 June 2018 16:21, UK
Real Madrid have abandoned their pursuit of Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, says Guillem Balague.
The European champions made Pochettino their number one target following Zinedine Zidane's decision to quit on Thursday.
However, the lack of a release clause in the Argentine's contract, coupled with the prospect of dealing with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy - who proved a tough negotiator for Real in the transfers of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale - resulted in them ending their interest.
Balague told Sky Sports News: "Real could see there was so many positives in signing him, not just the fact he can deal with the stars but how he improves players and how he works with youth players as well.
Real started fishing and put the idea out there in the media to see what the reaction was, but straight away they realised there was no clause for Pochettino to leave.
"But what they had in front of them was the possibility of negotiating with Daniel Levy for perhaps a month, even longer, with no guarantees whatsoever that they were going to get him.
"They know that Levy is a very tough negotiator, with Florentino [Perez, Real Madrid's president] having been in touch with him in recent seasons. They've decided to abandon the possibility of signing Mauricio Pochettino.
"That makes life very difficult for Real Madrid because there is not someone you could consider an automatic candidate after Pochettino.
"They will have to look at other possibilities including all the managers that are already in a job with a contract."
Real have been unsuccessful in recruiting Premier League-based managers in the past, with Rafael Benitez and Arsene Wenger both twice spurning their advances, but Sky Sports' Spanish football expert Balague says this latest rejection is different because Pochettino did not even get the chance to say no.
"Real started fishing and put the idea out there in the media to see what the reaction was, but straight away they realised there was no clause for Pochettino to leave," he said.
"They leaked to the media with the idea of adding pressure that there was a deal between Levy and Pochettino where he could leave for Madrid, but that was also false and very quickly quashed by Spurs. There really was no door half open."