Pochettino an intriguing option at Bayern but Tuchel favourite to replace Heynckes
MUNICH -- Tottenham's highly coveted coach Mauricio Pochettino is the latest big name thrown into the hat to be Jupp Heynckes' successor at Bayern Munich this summer.
Sport Bild claim Bayern's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has recommended Pochettino to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness as the ideal candidate to follow in the footsteps of Heynckes, who is expected to step aside in the summer.
Heynckes, 72, has not ruled out staying on beyond the summer. And until he does and Bayern name a successor, this story will continue to pop up.
Bayern's supposed pursuit of Pochettino is backed up by Dietmar Hamann's revelation in his column last week the German champions have already sounded him out to take over in the summer. The former Bayern midfielder also dismissed the chances of the widely held favourite for the job, ex-Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
"Even though apparently everything speaks for Thomas Tuchel, I somehow don't believe he will become the new coach," wrote Hamann.
"I know that Bayern have contacted Mauricio Pochettino. He was an option and possibly still is."
Asked for a response, the club told ESPN FC on Wednesday: "It's not FC Bayern style to comment on any kind of transfer rumours."
However, with Bayern on record as wanting a German-speaking coach this time around, unless Pochettino has been secretly taking intensive lessons in London, a move to the Bavarian capital remains highly unlikely.
However, Bayern's job description didn't prevent Hamann from insisting: "Speaking German is an important criterium, but it is definitely not the most significant.
"Pep Guardiola also couldn't speak [German] perfectly either. Bayern will try and hire the best possible coach -- for me that would be Tottenham's."
Pochettino is destined for greater things at one of Europe's superpowers, rather than at his current club. As a former Paris Saint-Germain player between 2001-03, the link to the Ligue 1 club is obvious, while his purring Spurs side showed Real Madrid, the Champions League holders, their limitations during the group stages this season, drawing 1-1 at the Bernabeu and sweeping them aside 3-1 at Wembley. It certainly would be no surprise if Pochettino moved to Madrid if Zinedine Zidane left in the summer.
Tuchel, currently on a sabbatical, remains the favourite for the Bayern job. His stock continues to rise as Borussia Dortmund struggle without him at the helm this season.
However, despite Heynckes talking him up, the link is an uneasy one. Hoeness apparently has his reservations about hiring the former Borussia Dortmund coach while Tuchel is also supposedly not high up on Mats Hummels' Christmas card list either after their fractious time together at BVB. Hoeness is clinging to the hope his close friend Heynckes can still be persuaded to stay on for another year. And Hoeness is renowned for not giving up easily.
Ruling out Pochettino and trusting the German-speaking coach job profile, Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp will always be a name brought up alongside Lucien Favre of Nice, while Hoffenheim's Julian Nagelsmann and Freiburg's Christian Streich, as well as former Bayern players Eintracht Frankfurt's Niko Kovac and Ralf Hassenhuttl of RB Leipzig have all been linked.
Hasenhuttl is only under contract until 2019 at Leipzig with stories of discontent surfacing at the east German club. The Austrian is also destined for bigger things and highly rated, particularly by Heynckes' trusted ally Hermann Gerland, who worked with him with the reserves.
And do not rule out Joachim Low, who could be an option in the future, particularly if Germany defend the World Cup in summer. What more is there for Low to win with Die Mannschaft?
With Hoeness dreaming of Bayern having a team of German internationals, club transfer policy of late has undergone a shift with the acquisition of a host of promising German internationals -- adding Niklas Sule, Serge Gnabry and Sebastian Rudy to the existing talents of Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Hummels. With Leon Goretzka added to the mix come next summer, it's safe to say Low would fit in quite nicely at the German giants further down the line.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.