Mauricio Pochettino reveals how close he came to becoming Newcastle United boss after Tottenham exit
The Argentine was touted as the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, PCP Partners and RB Sports & Media's number one choice to succeed Steve Bruce when the takeover was expected to go through in the summer of 2020.
However, the £305million deal stalled at the owners' and directors' test and wasn't approved until over a year later when the Premier League received "legally binding" assurances that the Saudi state would not control the football club.
By that point, Pochettino was in charge of French champions Paris Saint-Germain. Now manager of Chelsea, who visit St James' Park on Saturday afternoon, the 51-year-old has revealed he was never in the running for the managerial role on Tyneside.
When asked, Pochettino said: "No. You asked me in the past?". He continued: "It was never a possibility. No one contacted me."
Despite at one stage looking like Unai Emery would take over at Newcastle, the responsibility, of course, was handed to Eddie Howe. And during his two years as head coach has taken the club from battling relegation and qualifying for the Champions League.
The two managers go head-to-back this weekend, and Pochettino, who previously guided Tottenham Hotspur to the Champions League final, has heaped praise on his counterpart.
"When I was in Southampton he was at Bournemouth and I think he is doing a great job. He is a great manager for sure and one of the best coaches in England.
"We need to remember that he arrived in Newcastle when they were bottom of the table and look where Newcastle is now. He deserved full credit.
"The organisation of course is Dan Ashworth, Darren Eales whom we know really well. They are doing a fantastic job. But Eddie is a great coach, still young but experienced. For me, he is one of the most talented coaches in England and Europe."
Newcastle and Chelsea recently faced each other at the US Premier League Summer Series and played out a 1-1 draw in Atlanta. The two clubs meet again next month at Stamford Bridge for a place in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.