Uncertainty continued to surround Mauricio Pochettino’s position as Saints boss last night, as the odds tumbled on him joining Spurs.
The London club are keen on hiring Pochettino to replace the sacked Tim Sherwood, although Ajax coach Frank de Boer is another name who has come under serious consideration.
De Boer is said to have irked Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy with his public utterances about the job, but the Dutchman is privately thought to be hopeful of still securing an interview for the post.
Tottenham would likely have to wait until next week to do that, though, with Ajax currently on an end-of-season tour to Indonesia.
If they wish to formally speak to De Boer, the situation could well drag on.
By contrast, Pochettino is a target on which they may feel they could move more quickly, and he was made a heavy odds-on favourite last night.
If Pochettino, who has been non-committal when discussing his future at St Mary’s, was to leave, the remaining year on his Saints contract would have to be settled.
It is understood the 42-year-old would have to pay what one source described as a “significant” sum to free himself from his current deal, which runs until the end of next season.
One report yesterday suggested he would in fact have to stump up an entire year’s salary of £2m.
However, if Levy does settle on Pochettino as his preferred target, and the Saints boss is willing to move, then he is unlikely to force him to fund such a switch from his own pocket, at least entirely.
The situation could be complicated further, though, by Pochettino’s likely insistence that he bring his backroom staff with him to White Hart Lane, should he wish to join the club.
Pochettino is very close to his assistant Jesús Pérez, first team coach Miguel D’Agostino and goalkeeping coach Toni Jiménez, and would not be keen to move on without all of them.
Despite having removed Sherwood on Tuesday, Spurs are yet to make a decision on the futures of first-team coaches Chris Ramsey, Les Ferdinand and Steffen Freund, as well as goalkeeping coach Tony Parks.
The prospect of Pochettino’s entire backroom staff moving to White Hart Lane would also mean an increased outlay for Tottenham, who must already pay up the final year of Sherwood’s contract, as they would also have to be freed from their own deals.
For their part, Saints, despite their continued silence over this and other matters, have attempted to persuade their manager to commit his long-term future by tabling what is understood to be a lucrative new contract to him.
However, the longer that remains unsigned, the more the sense of unease will grow at St Mary’s that Pochettino has an eye on another job.