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Ranking candidates to replace Emery, should PSG face Champions failure

PARIS -- Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery is out of contract at the end of this season and if the Spaniard does not lead the French capital outfit to at least the UEFA Champions League semifinals after this summer's epic spend, Oryx Qatar Sports Investments will surely not keep him on.

Although there is still a long way to go in Europe, things look very rosy for Emery and PSG atop Group B with 12 points from 12, 17 goals scored without reply and a 3-0 home win over Bayern Munich to their name.

That is no guarantee the Ligue 1 giants will reach the final four or better in the Champions League, though.

For all the might of Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar in attack, PSG's midfield depth is threadbare at times and the defence -- despite four clean sheets for now -- is deceptively fragile at times.

Les Parisiens could still conspire to fail to reach at least the semifinals, though, and another factor in that is Emery's lack of authority.

So, if PSG require a new coach for next campaign, who are the most likely candidates?

Mauricio Pochettino

At this moment in time, the Tottenham Hotspur boss is the standout option.

Not only is the 45-year-old Argentinian tactician's stock rising rapidly, particularly after masterminding a 1-1 draw away and a 3-1 home win over Real Madrid in the Champions League group stage, he offers something that few other candidates can -- a history with the club.

Pochettino played for PSG between 2001-03 and was captain during that period. On top of that, the former Southampton and Espanyol coach has gone on record and declared his desire to sit in the Parc des Princes hot seat at some point during his career.

With the likes of Neymar and Mbappe currently plying their trade there, what better time than from next term onward?

Pochettino might lack material proof of his coaching acumen, particularly in the Champions League, but the signs of his talent are clear for all to see. If the South American does decide it is time to leave Spurs, though, PSG will not be the only ones after him.

Mauricio Pochettino checks a lot of boxes that PSG will likely want in their next manager, and he's expressed a desire for the job in the past.

Jose Mourinho

A two-time Champions League winner, once a beaten finalist and a six-time semifinalist, as well as a two-time Europa League winner -- once when it was still the UEFA Cup. Candidates for PSG will not come more convincing, results-wise, than Mourinho.

Factor in that the Portuguese's contract talks with Manchester United are stalling and the growing belief at Old Trafford that he will leave at the end of this season and we could already be looking at Emery's successor.

Mourinho's abrasive character and derogatory former comments about Ligue 1 will not be much of an obstacle if PSG realistically think they can snare "the Special One," and compatriot and former FC Porto colleague Antero Henrique's current role as sporting director only strengthens the case.

The Qatari owners like attractive football, which Mourinho is not famed for. But if he promises Champions League success, will they really care?

Antonio Conte

Next up is Chelsea's Conte and like Mourinho, it is looking increasingly possible that the Italian will not be with his Premier League employers of the moment come next campaign.

Although the former Italy and Juventus boss' Champions League record is hardly convincing, with his best being a quarterfinal finish with the Serie A champions back in 2012-13, Conte's strengths lie in his motivation skills.

The 48-year-old demonstrated these qualities perfectly by leading a limited Azzurri squad to the 2016 UEFA European Championship last eight.

PSG's current group do not need a coach obsessed with the tactical side of the game, like Emery. They need somebody who can command the players' collective respect and Conte could be perfect for that and keeping the team well-drilled all season.

Andre Villas-Boas

The next candidate is somebody known for preaching attractive football and is valued highly by Henrique from their time together with Porto: Villas-Boas.

Currently in China with Shanghai SIPG, the Portuguese could be tempted by the chance to work with his former colleague again -- and coach the likes of Neymar and Mbappe, of course.

Chelsea won the Champions League back in 2012 but it was Roberto Di Matteo who led them to that success and not Villas-Boas, despite the fact that he was in charge for most of that campaign.

Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas
Could Andre Villas-Boas be persuaded to leave Shanghai SIPG for PSG?

Otherwise, his continental best was the last 16 with former employers Zenit Saint Petersburg back in 2015-16.

The Portuguese tactician did win the 2010-11 Europa League during his time with Porto, though, and also reached the AFC Champions League semifinals with Shanghai before being ousted by Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan.

It is not the first time he has been linked with PSG. But like before, there are stronger candidates for the role.

Marcelo Gallardo

Gallardo is an intriguing possibility. Like Pochettino, he is a former PSG player, a young a coach with a growing reputation and Argentinian, too.

The River Plate boss has led the team in three separate spells to the finals of the Copa Libertadores, the FIFA Club World Cup and the Copa Sudamericana, but remains untried in Europe.

Gallardo has the language on his side after another spell in France with AS Monaco, but is a massively unknown quantity.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone also came through River Plate and did not win the Libertadores, but still did excellently in Spain, even if he looks like he might have finally reached his limit with Atleti.

That match was perfect for Simeone's character, though, and Gallardo to PSG is less of an obvious fit.

Carlo Ancelotti

Currently taking a break after leaving Bayern Munich following their heavy Champions League defeat to former club PSG, Ancelotti is a three-time winner and has already coached the French giants, but that is as far as his consideration should be taken.

Old problems that the respected Italian tactician bemoaned after his first spell at Parc des Princes still exist and a return would not benefit either party.

Missing names

Simeone is one name who could arguably be on this list, but his stock has plummeted over the past 12 months or so and PSG appear to have move on from their dream of bringing in the Argentinian and replicating his Atleti miracles in Paris.

The other possibility and it would be an intriguing one is Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim. The Portuguese has worked wonders with PSG's principality rivals and as part of a project that does not resign itself to selling its best talents to survive, he could really flourish.

Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.


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