Eric Abidal has explained that the former Tottenham boss was his number one choice to step into the managerial hotseat in Catalonia a year ago.
Pochettino was appointed at the French champions last month having been out of work since leaving Tottenham in November 2019 as previous reports linked him to a move to Barca.
Abidal has now verified this account, claiming that the Argentine was his number one choice for the position – which eventually went to Quique Setien.
Now, it has emerged that Pochettino’s links to Catalan rivals Espanyol were pivotal in the club’s decision not to move for him.
“On my list was Mauricio Pochettino, Quique Setien, Max Allegri and Xavi Hernandez,” Abidal explained in an interview to The Telegraph.
“Quique was appointed, but my first option was Pochettino. I told the board ‘I have to bring the best coach we can in the market. I’m not here for politics because he was before in Espanyol’. For me, it is not politics. I wanted the best and Pochettino is one of the best in our game.
“He reached the Champions League final with Tottenham, you have to respect this, he has a good philosophy of playing, a good philosophy of training, players love him and I think he would be a better coach now for this situation, but with a real project.
“I knew there was a political problem because I gave my argument to the board and some answers were focused on Espanyol and not on the technical part. And I think he did an interview many years ago, I will not say he talked bad about the club, he said something about going to Argentina first before he will train Barcelona. This was a problem for some people’s egos and they said ‘no because he’s not respecting the club’.
“But many years ago (Jose) Mourinho said Barcelona was always in his heart and he became the coach of Real Madrid because this happens in careers and different situations present themselves. You don’t have to mix politics with professional decisions, but Barcelona is a unique club with a large board and many people making the decisions.”