Mauricio Pochettino has revealed he still “loves” Tottenham and would be ready to return one day - but that would not have stopped him taking the Arsenal job.

In his first major interview since leaving Tottenham last month, Pochettino admitted he would love to manage again in the Premier League while also addressing rumours that he could succeed Pep Guardiola as Manchester City boss.

Pochettino, 47, is in Qatar as guest of the country’s Supreme Committee as they prepare for the 2022 World Cup but spoke openly about needing time to recharge his batteries, meeting up with Diego Maradona and his “big brother” relationship with Mikel Arteta.

Former World Cup star Pochettino was on Arsenal’s shortlist of managerial targets to succeed Unai Emery but the ex-Spurs boss revealed they did not make an approach - but he would have been “open” to crossing the North London divide.

Pochettino, whose watch is still on English time, said: “No, when I say I am open, I am open, I cannot say that I am open but I’m closed to someone.

"It’s different if you receive an approach and you listen and say yes or no. That’s different.

Pochettino admits he would have taken the Arsenal job

“But you can’t say that I’m open but on that I am not open. You are open and then you are open. Anything can happen.

"When I say I am open, I am open to listen to any club.

“Of course (I am happy to see Tottenham doing well) because I love Tottenham, I love the fans, I love the players, I love the club, the staff and of course when you leave a club, always you want them to win games because that means the team is alive, the team was already prepared to compete.

“For different reasons, you split but there are people for whom you always want the best and I’m so happy that they are winning games and that’s the most important thing because that love is never going to change.

“You accept the rules in football and that is the most important thing. I think it’s best to accept that in football things can happen but happy to see and enjoy the team winning games of course.”

Pochettino worked wonders during his Spurs reign

Pochettino also admitted that he could one day see himself returning, as Zinedine Zidane has done at Real Madrid.

“I don’t know because in football look at what happened with Zidane at Real Madrid, there’s plenty of examples and the most important thing is when you finish the relationships remain in a very good way and my love for Tottenham goes on,” said Pochettino.

“You feel that always from the fans, you feel the love and in football you never know. The same coaches or managers one day leave and then go back, different presidents, different times.

Pochettino and Daniel Levy celebrate after the Champions League win over Ajax

“Now it’s not in my hands, it’s in another person’s hands, we need to move on and of course you have different motivations and challenges in our life and we have to make sure we have the right energy to attack the new challenge and try to achieve all the new things that people expect from you.”

Pochettino admitted that he would like to return to English football - and was also asked directly whether he could succeed Guardiola at Manchester City as speculation grows that he could leave next summer.

Guardiola has struggled to maintain City’s defence of their Premier League title, has lost his assistant Arteta and the club’s hierarchy are big admirers of Pochettino.

“To be honest, I don’t read too much,” said Pochettino when asked about stories linking him with City. “I didn’t read before and I don’t know, I’m lucky now because I have (assistant) Jesus (Perez) with me and he reads it all for me.

"He sees some news that he translates for me, but I trust him of course 200 per cent and I don’t need to read. I didn’t read before and I don’t now.

Pochettino isn't reading into links with City

“That’s not nice, I was working and when things happen like this and, for any coach, it’s nice to hear your name in some place and we are in a world with your colleagues (in media) we understand the rules but sometimes it’s not nice. I try to stay away from these rumours.

“Of course when people approach us then we are open but we didn’t have time because we’ve been in Argentina, now in Doha and, to be honest, we were not in London to have the time to listen or to talk and that’s why now this is good for us because our priority is to have this motivation and the energy to again be ready to accept a new challenge and always give your best because that’s most important.

“Of course I love the Premier League, the English fans and if not the best, the it’s one of the best leagues in the world and for any manager it’s very exciting to be involved in the Premier League.

“But it’s not just the Premier League, there’s other leagues, different clubs which can be exciting and can give you a challenge that is maybe different.

Pochettino's farewell note to his Spurs squad

“Now it is true that we have not had time to think about the future, but now is a time to think about ourselves, to make sure you are ready and that’s the key point to be ready when something happens.

“To be more prepared, prepare yourself to be ready for a club that wants you to make sure you can give them the best of you.

“I said before that I am open about everything.

"You never know when an opportunity will appear, the pressure can motivate you, it’s not always an obvious project or club, it’s not only about the project, it’s about the people, the people who you want to work with or people who want to work with you.

“That’s important and, on both sides, we care a lot about that. I’m open to listen to learn and now with everyone in football we have an unbelievable opportunity to share experiences.

“We are here with Iker Casillas, Christian Karembeu, Ronald De Boer, many people, a lot of people that are very important in football and when you have time to create this link and open communications you start to feel that you are going to be better, a better coach, better person from sharing experiences with people because it makes you think and to be more open.”

Pochettino's ex-PSG teammate Mikel Arteta is now Arsenal boss

Pochettino tried to appoint new Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta in 2016 as one of his assistants and says that he has all of the qualities to become a successful manager.

“I wish him all the best of course. He’s a very good friend of mine, we met in Paris Saint Germain, he was very young, I was captain of Paris Saint Germain and it’ll be interesting to see him in the dug-out,” said Pochettino.

“Yes, but you make me a very, very old man. I think big brother is better than like a father. I wish him all the best, he deserves big success in football.

“He is so clever, I hope he can enjoy the new position in his career in football because he’s been an assistant and now to be on the touchline as a manager, coach or head coach in this case is different. But he has experience and the knowledge to do a great job.”

Pochettino intends to spend Christmas with family but also says he will be fully recharged after his break in Argentina and now in Doha where he expects the 2022 World Cup to be a big success.

Pochettino has visited Maradona back in Argentina
Pochettino and trusted assistant Jesus Perez are currently in Qatar

“To be honest, after a few days I went to Argentina, spent a very nice time with my parents after seven years away, with my family and friends,” said Pochettino.

“I was at Newell’s Old Boys, I saw Diego Maradona, it was a very intense ten days. I was in London, now in Qatar, there was no time to think too much.

“But I am enjoying it a lot because when you are in football you are so focused, thinking 24 hours a day and sometimes it’s difficult to stop just thinking about the next game, preparing everything.

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“After five and a half years in Tottenham, it’s a weird time for us but, at the same time, I’m very relaxed but I’m also happy when I look back.

“But in life, you need to move on, in football you can do that quicker than in life. I need to recharge the batteries and be ready if an offer arrives and of course open to listen.

“First of all, I’m very surprised by the weather. I’ve listened before to people saying it would be difficult, so hot, but it’s amazing. It’s 24 or 25 during the day, at night 17 or 18, it’s perfect weather to play football and I think the players, coaches and staff will be very surprised.

“I think it’s going to all be in place in three years’ time for the World Cup. You can feel it’s the right time to do the World Cup here.”