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Argentine FA chief set for Messi meeting, denies Sampaoli contact

Buenos Aires (AFP) – The new president of the Argentine Football Federation (AFA) flew to Barcelona on Thursday to meet Lionel Messi but ruled out any possibility of an encounter with Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli.

“The only object of my trip is to see Messi. As for the new coach, we are relaxed about that because Bauza has only just left,” said the recently elected Claudio Tapia.

Edgardo Bauza was fired earlier this week with Argentina struggling in qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Sevilla boss Sampaoli, a 57-year-old Argentinian who won the Copa America in charge of Chile in 2015, has been named as the favourite to succeed Bauza.

However, his Spanish club have said any approach to Sampaoli — who is under contract until June 2018 — is “unacceptable” and accused AFA of a “lack of respect”.

Nevertheless, Daniel Angelici, the highly influential president of Boca Juniors and vice-president of AFA, repeated on Thursday that “Sampaoli is the candidate that interests AFA the most”.

He added that discussions had taken place with the Sevilla president Jose Castro.

Argentina do not have another World Cup qualifier until the end of August, so Sampaoli could in theory stay with Sevilla for the remainder of the Spanish season even if he does end up replacing Bauza.

Sampaoli recently admitted he dreamed of one day coaching Barcelona superstar Messi — he has also been linked with the Camp Nou hotseat as a potential successor to Luis Enrique, who will depart at the end of the current campaign.

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