Madrid (AFP) – Jorge Sampaoli moved a step closer to taking over the vacant position as Argentina coach on Friday as the Argentine Football Association (AFA) reached a deal with his club side Sevilla.
“Sevilla and AFA have reached an agreement in principle to release coach Jorge Sampaoli… so he can take charge as Argentina national team coach,” Sevilla said in a statement.
The Spanish side had been holding out for AFA to pay a 1.5 million euro ($1.7 million) release clause in Sampaoli’s contract which still had one more year to run.
Sampaoli enjoyed a largely successful solo season in charge at the Sanchez Pizjuan as he led Sevilla to fourth in La Liga behind the might of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
However, a tail off in form towards the end of the campaign was blamed on Sampaoli’s desire to leave the club as rumours linked him with Barcelona and Argentina.
“There’s a clear intention from my country to have me as coach and, since I was young, it’s something that has appealed to me,” Sampaoli said ahead of Sevilla’s final La Liga game of the season last weekend.
Despite being able to call on a rich pool of talent including Lionel Messi, Argentina sit fifth in South American World Cup qualifying with just four games to go.
Only the top four qualify automatically for the tournament in Russia next year with fifth-place earning a playoff against the winners of the Oceania region.
However, Sampaoli already has an impressive record in international football as he led Chile to win the Copa America for the first time in 2015, beating Messi’s Argentina in the final.
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