Pochettino said last September that he was still a ‘periquito’ – a supporter of Barcelona’s city rivals Espanyol, where he had two spells as a player and one as manager.
Yet asked on Friday whether his Espanyol past would make it difficult for him to move to Barcelona, should the Catalans ask him to succeed Luis Enrique at the end of the campaign, Pochettino was non-committal.
“I don’t want to speak because if I do, it is possible people can twist my words,” he said. “Only I can say I am happy here, I understand the business, I understand my name is on some lists. It is normal in football today.
“I have said before that when I was born, my mother and father put a football in my arms. It is a metaphor to say I understand the business and that my name will be on a list. They are things you cannot explain more.
“I don’t think of it as flattering. I am at Tottenham, one of the biggest clubs in Europe. We are in a position where you can see we play good football and we are an exciting team. We have very good players so it is normal we call the attention of the rest of the clubs, football people around the world.
“We are one of the most exciting teams to watch. I don’t think of it as flattering. We are part of that business and our name appears on the list. I was born not with a bull, but a ball, in my arms.”
By using the phrase “born with a ball”, Pochettino was trying to clarify comments he was supposed to have made after Spurs’ FA Cup win over Aston Villa in January, which have caused substantial confusion.
Asked about the Barcelona job in a radio interview then, Pochettino’s reply was recorded thus: “I was born with a bull in my arm”.
This was interpreted by many on social media as a reference to his time at Espanyol – but there is no symbol of a bull in the Espanyol crest, nor does it seem to be one of their customary nicknames.
Reports in Spain do not have Pochettino among the favourites to step in when Luis Enrique leaves at the end of the season. Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli and Ernesto Valverde, of Athletic Bilbao, are said to be the front-runners. Elsewhere, however, he has been mentioned as a strong contender for the job.