Pochettino is United’s No1 choice to take over from interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the summer.
The Red Devils are prepared to pay the outstanding £40million on his five-year Spurs contract to get their man.
Speculation over whether the Argentine could be tempted to move to Old Trafford has even caused Tottenham to angrily shut down a reporter at a press conference.
But according to the Telegraph, it is the pull of Real that has Tottenham chiefs sweating over their highly-rated manager.
Pochettino, 46, spent most of his playing career in Spain at Espanyol and it is believed managing Madrid is his ultimate aim.
He told the La Liga giants to forget it in November after the sacking of Julen Lopetegui due to uncertainty and constant disruption behind the scenes at the Bernabeu.
Santiago Solari was promoted from the club’s B team but could be out of a job if he fails to win a trophy this season.
Spurs chiefs reportedly believe Poch would be torn over joining another English club so soon and fear United’s interest could force Real to make a move.
A complete lack of summer spending left Pochettino without any new players to challenge for the Premier League title, though he has remarkably steered the club to second in the table.
Funds would not be an issue at both United and Real but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy hopes the level of control he has granted Poch will persuade him to stay.
And he has money to spend in January to boost his title push – though may also have to sell.
Yesterday, Pochettino confirmed Spurs will take up the option to extend Toby Alderweireld’s contract by a further 12 months.
But by triggering that clause, the Belgium defender will be able to leave Spurs in the summer for just £25m.
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