Real Madrid will look to other targets to replace Zinedine Zidane as their head coach this summer after anticipating "hardship" in their pursuit of Mauricio Pochettino - and it's all because of Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy.
The reigning European champions were rumoured to have made the Argentinian their primary target to replace Zidane after he stepped down earlier this week, with Pochettino even addressing the rumour (and failing to rule it out) up front.
But amid talk of a massive £42m demand from Spurs to release Pochettino from his contract and fears that talks with Levy could drag on for weeks, Los Blancos appear to have now switched to other targets. Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp is still being considered, while Italian trio Antonio Conte, Massimiliano Allegri and Maurizio Sarri are also believed to be in the running.
🎙️ @edupidal nos cuenta como va la situación del Real Madrid con la búsqueda de entrenador:— El Transistor (@ElTransistorOC) June 2, 2018
➡️"Pochettino no está descartado, pero es complicado negociar con Levy. El Madrid tiene a Jurgen Klopp entre sus opciones, Allegri, Conte e incluso Sarri."
While the Sunday Times however report that there's still hope for Real - claiming Pochettino has made it clear he wants to move to Madrid and hopes a deal can be reached - a new wave of reports suggest that Real are looking to get a new boss installed as soon as they can. Weeks of negotiations with no guarantee they'll be able to secure Pochettino has put them off.
Pochettino had admitted that he'd "have to listen" to any approach made by the 13-time European champions earlier this week, but did go on to admit that he remained happy with the club he signed a new contract with less than two weeks ago.
While promoting his book in Spain, he said: “When Real Madrid call you, you have to listen to them. Although in this case it doesn’t depend on me. I have just signed a long contract with Tottenham and I am very happy here.
“I am happy at Tottenham because they let me work and we are growing together. Right now I want to focus on planning for next season and keep out of all the things that are being said. There will be lots of rumours, lots of things said, but I have no news from Real Madrid."
The new reports however, which initially came from Cadena Cope, have now been backed up by Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, who went on to confirm the reports on Sky Sports.
He said: "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.
"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."