Notes: Paul Pogba will likely sustain another injury, and Mauricio Pochettino will be put to the test by Chelsea’s disarray.

Additionally, is Valencia in irreversible decline, is Christopher Nkunku the best Bundesliga player, and has France blown the top five in Europe?

The final few weeks of the European soccer season have brought us yet another weekend of breath-taking action in the top five leagues on the continent. We take a stab at this past weekend’s main topics as the second legs of the UEFA Champions League semifinals approach as part of another jam-packed week.

Are Chelsea too messy for Pochettino?

Chelsea’s pursuit of Mauricio Pochettino as their new manager has been the biggest story in the Premier League over the past few days. The Argentine coach hasn’t had a job since quitting Paris Saint-Germain last year, and even if the agreement isn’t finalized yet, he is anticipated to take the Stamford Bridge manager’s seat. There is a chance that Pochettino may have taken on more than he can handle given that his team has only won one of their last nine league games and Frank Lampard has had difficulty motivating a lavishly stocked roster. Despite a somewhat dismal tenure in France, the former Tottenham Hotspur manager is still highly regarded in England. The 51-year-old is now risking his reputation by trying to turn around this underwhelming Chelsea squad. The South American’s duty will be made easier by the absence of Europe in the upcoming campaign, but much work remains before this team even approaches the level of a “Pochettino side,” particularly in attack.

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Is Nkunku the Bundesliga’s best?

With two dramatic assists for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga over the weekend, London-bound Christopher Nkunku helped his team reverse a 1-0 setback to Werder Bremen at home into a 2-1 triumph, highlighting his reputation as the league’s best player. Several highly talented players are presently competing in Germany, not least with Bayern Munich, However, only a select few can compare to Nkunku at his very best, and this was the 25-year-old’s magical nine-minute run. The former PSG player is returning from an injury-plagued season and already knows that he won’t be in Leipzig next year, but he is on a mission to make sure that he leaves Die Roten Bullen with Champions League soccer, not with the kind of welcome he will receive when he joins Chelsea this summer.

Might injury prone Pogba be done?

Paul Pogba of Juventus, who just sustained a season-ending injury without even managing to play 90 minutes for the Italian giants, is another Frenchman in a terrible circumstance. The 30-year-old has now gone more than a full calendar year without suffering any injuries, and that was while playing for his old team, Manchester United. Pogba was beset by scandal and trauma off the pitch, and he also missed the FIFA 2022 World Cup with France. At this point in his career, the question is not if he will ever return to full fitness for Juve and Les Bleus, but rather when. Because of this most recent setback, Pogba is most certainly locked in Turin until he can at least string together regular minutes. This likely knocks out any prospective switch this summer. He recently demonstrated that he still had some of the old magic in the 1-1 UEFA Europa League draw with Sevilla, but is that magic sufficient to return him to the position he held five years ago, when he was helping the French win the World Cup in Russia? It appears less and less likely.

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Are Valencia the next Deportivo?

Valencia has hope of staying in La Liga after winning three of their previous five games, and with four games remaining, Los Che are currently three points above the danger zone. With victories over Elche, Real Valladolid, and Celta Vigo, former player Ruben Baraja, who has returned to Mestalla to try to save his old team, may have finally turned the corner. Two of the three victories came away from home, hinting at the toxic environment that hated owner Peter Lim fostered. However, it’s alarming to think that this could start to become the norm for the six-time La Liga champions. Valencia has ended in the bottom half of the table four times in the last eight seasons, with two of those top half finishes coming in ninth place. If Valencia survives this season, they will face Real Madrid and Real Betis as two of their last four opponents. The future seems gloomy unless Lim goes after nine years of continuous deterioration, as many of the club’s top stars have already left and are more likely to leave again this summer regardless of status. Valencia should take note from third-tier fallen giants Deportivo La Coruna that Real and Barcelona’s major rivals from the early 2000s are not too big to fall and keep falling.

Is France still a top five league?

Last week’s 2-1 victory by West Ham United over AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Europa Conference League semifinals was a major triumph for French soccer. Whatever happens to France’s dropping UEFA coefficient after Michail Antonio’s late winner, Ligue 1 will have four Champions League slots for the 2024–25 season. The Netherlands and Belgium have caught up to the French and Portugal, who are now all battling for top-five status, thanks to PSG’s most recent continental difficulties and some of the other Championnat teams active in Europe. Even if the Dutch may well take the lead in France at the start of the following year, at least four clubs in Ligue 1 will compete in the 24–25 season, the first to use the new UCL format. But if the underperforming country wants to genuinely continue to be one of the big five, it must address this issue beginning in the next term.