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MAURICIO Pochettino or Frank De Boer?

The Argentinian who took Saints to eighth place in the Premier League or the Dutchman who has just won his fourth successive league title with Ajax Amsterdam?

Pochettino, who has never managed in European club football, or De Boer with his Champions League experience?

Two men, both 43-years-old, who love to promote young talent and who could be seeking a new challenge.

That new challenge could come from Tottenham, who yesterday – to no-one’s great surprise – sacked Tim Sherwood after less than six months in the job at White Hart Lane.

In an instant, one of the worst-kept secrets in the Premier League was out.

Both Pochettino and De Boer have long been linked with Spurs, with Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars recently revealing he had taken a phone call from a Tottenham official.

Saints have always maintained they have had no approaches for Pochettino, whose contract runs out at St Mary’s next summer.

While Pochettino has never publicly declared any interest in talking to Tottenham, De Boer certainly has.

Last month he said: “I’ll talk to them and listen to what they have to say.

“I would like to add something to a club like Brendan Rodgers did at Liverpool.

“I see a perspective at Tottenham Hotspur, just as Liverpool and Newcastle United sometimes are, they are sleeping giants.”

Pochettino has made his name at Saints by promoting young talent.

Even though Luke Shaw and Jay Rodriguez were first team regulars when he arrived in January 2012, the pair have developed into senior England internationals under his watch.

Pochettino has also introduced the likes of Calum Chambers, Sam Gallagher and Harrison Reed into the first team squad this season.

Circumstances have dictated Gallagher’s promotion, though, due to Dani Osvaldo’s shipping out in disgrace and Jay Rodriguez’s injury.

Spurs also have a group of promising youngsters threatening to make a big breakthrough such as Tom Carroll, Harry Kane and Nabil Bentaleb.

De Boer, though, is committed to youth development – as you would expect of a man brought up through the famous Ajax youth system.

In true Ajax style, he is keen on every team at the Dutch giants, from the senior side to the Under-8s, playing the same system.

He is also a results man, with Ajax having only lost eight league games out of 102 matches in the last three complete Dutch League campaigns.

Pochettino has not had mega millions made available to him at Saints, who are unable to regularly pay over £20m for players in the same way Chelsea, Manchester City or Manchester United can.

The same would probably be the case at Tottenham, who spent over £100m last summer without major success.

Off the field, Spurs are keen to build a new 56,000-seat stadium and move into it in three years’ time.

At present, their capacity of around 36,000 holds them back with regards to bringing in extra revenue compared to most of the clubs who have finished above them this term.

If Spurs do press ahead with the new ground, significant transfer spending appears unlikely.

Sherwood’s successor at Tottenham must also work with technical director Franco Baldini.

At Saints Pochettino would almost certainly have far greater influence with regards to any new signings, as Les Reed does play a prominent role at St Mary’s in that respect.

How much influence would Pochettino have at White Hart Lane with Baldini in situ?

Compare that to De Boer, left, who currently works under a similar structure at Ajax.

Pochettino has also made public his dislike of the Europa League that Tottenham will be playing in next season.

Who knows whether that will be in his mind if he is thinking about a move to north London?

For his part, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy is no stranger to approaching Saints for a new manager.

Shortly after taking over from Sir Alan Sugar in February 2001, Levy successfully moved to sweet-talk Glenn Hoddle from his role at The Dell.

Hoddle was Levy’s first new managerial appointment, and there have been many more since.

Jacques Santini, Martin Jol, Juande Ramos, Harry Redknapp, André Villas-Boas and Sherwood have all followed Hoddle in – and subsequently out – of the club.

Whoever takes over, Sherwood believes, faces a tough task trying to guide Spurs into the top four.

Last summer they sold ex-Saint Gareth Bale for a world record £86m, and invested the money in seven foreigners who had never played in the Premier League before.

“How on earth did people think we would be title challengers or even make the top four?” Sherwood said after his last game.

“If you don't know the game you could possibly think that they would all hit the floor running but it doesn't happen, they need time.

“This club will be better with those seven players next season.”

Spurs have come fourth only twice in the last 10 campaigns and Sherwood insists expectations last summer were far too high.

“It was hyped - the hype was ridiculous,” Sherwood said. “We've qualified for the Champions League once - why have we got a divine right to qualify for the Champions League?

“Sixth is where we should be, it's where we are as a club. “We all want to aspire to the top four but we aren't getting there with what we’ve got.”