Tottenham Hotspur: Mauricio Pochettino 'to be added to Real Madrid shortlist' if Champions League dream falters

Zinedine Zidane replaced Rafael Benítez in January but the defeat by Atlético Madrid askes uncomfortable questions

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The Independent Football

Real Madrid have been linked with an move for Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino if Zinedine Zidane fails to win the Champions League.

The Frenchman replaced Rafael Benítez in January but the derby defeat by Atlético Madrid, which leaves Los Blancos nine points adrift of Catalonian foes Barcelona, has increased speculation further that he may not survive into the new season.

Florentino Pérez, the Real president, has reportedly shortlisted Spurs boss Pochettino, according to Italian daily Gazzetta World, as the Argentinian leads the North London club into a pivotal ten-match Premier League title run-in.

The 44-year-old has been suggested as a possible successor to Louis van Gaal at Manchester United but the Old Trafford giants are expected to approach former Chelsea manager José Mourinho should they see fit to make a change in the off-season.

Spurs remain three points behind leaders Leicester City following the 1-0 set-back at West Ham United but remain favourites to win the title among many bookmakers and pundits. 

Real, meanwhile, are faced with the indignity of surrendering their La Liga hopes to prioritise the Champions League with them currently holding a two-goal lead against Roma in the two-legged round-of-16 tie. 

Speaking after the defeat by West Ham on Wednesday evening, Pochettino said: “Was it nerves? No. We made some mistakes that normally we don't make. We didn't start well. The first half was poor, we never found solutions to play like we normally play. 

“We had more freedom in the second half but if you don't score it's difficult to get the points. We were poor. We know. We are very disappointed. But the way the players fought in the second half was fantastic.”