Manchester United have held initial talks with Ernesto Valverde as they continue their search for an interim manager to take charge until the end of the season.
Valverde is one of a number of potential candidates to have spoken with United, and it is understood other prominent managers are in the frame for the role.
United are conducting a thorough process to appoint an interim boss following the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last week.
The club are planning to make a permanent appointment at the end of the season and Mauricio Pochettino is their first choice.
United are also not ruling out the possibility of making a move for the Paris Saint-Germain head coach during the current campaign.
It is understood the former Tottenham boss would be interested in moving to Old Trafford, though Pochettino said on Monday he is “so happy” at PSG and will not allow United’s interest to distract him from his current role.
Pochettino joined PSG in January and is contracted to the Ligue 1 club until the summer of 2023.
Valverde has been out of work since being sacked by Barcelona – who were top of La Liga at the time – in January 2020.
The 57-year-old won two Spanish titles and the Copa del Rey during his two-and-a-half-year spell at the Nou Camp, while he is also a three-time Greek champion from his time with Olympiakos.
Valverde has also managed Athletic Bilbao, Villarreal, Valencia and Espanyol, who he took to the UEFA Cup final in 2007.
United are also interested in Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag, who sources have said would be “100 per cent interested” in replacing Solskjaer.
The Norwegian was sacked by United on Sunday after just under three years in charge at Old Trafford.
His final game was a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Watford on Saturday that left United eighth in the Premier League, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea after just 12 games.
Speaking in Manchester ahead of PSG’s Champions League match at Manchester City, Mauricio Pochettino said:
“I am focused. I am very focused on football. I am not a child, I spend my whole life playing football, and now my 12th year being coach, we’re in a business that the rumours are there. I understand what is going on.
“This kind of thing cannot distract. Rumours are there, we need to live with that. We are so focused, giving 100 per cent to get our best from the club and the players. I am so happy at Paris Saint-Germain, for tomorrow we are so focused to get the best results we can.”
Michael Carrick believes Manchester United’s players showed their character as they delivered a 2-0 win over Villarreal in the first game since Solskjaer’s sacking on Sunday.
Late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho – his first for the club – sent United into the last 16 of the Champions League as group winners – following Atalanta’s 3-3 draw with Young Boys later in the evening – and lifted the mood after a dismal few weeks.
Carrick, who has taken temporary charge of the first team, could take credit as the introduction of Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford in the 66th minute changed a game Villarreal had edged to that point.
“The result obviously is a major plus from the run we’ve gone on – we can’t hide that,” Carrick said. “To get that feeling of winning a football match for the players is huge, and to keep a clean sheet, David (de Gea) was important again so all round there’s a lot of positives to take.
“The biggest [positive] I’ll take is how everyone adapted, the reaction and how they pulled together.
“In situations like this there’s mixed emotions. It’s a test of people and you find out who the real characters are, who’s there with you and who’s not. I thought everyone stuck together in terms of supporting me and my staff and we managed to get the win which is very pleasing. It was a big one.”