Jorge Sampaoli is our 'chosen coach' to manage Argentina - AFA president
Jorge Sampaoli is the only candidate for the vacant Argentina coaching position, Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia has said.
Argentina need a new coach following the AFA's dismissal of Edgardo Bauza on April 10 after eight months in charge that have left the country's 2018 World Cup qualifying hopes in jeopardy.
Sampaoli, who was born in Argentina, is under contract with Sevilla until June 2018 but can leave this summer provided his €1.5 million release clause is met.
Asked about former Chile coach Sampaoli, Tapia told ESPN Argentina: "He is the chosen coach. We have to wait for the contractual terms to discuss things with Sevilla.
"We have chosen a coach that has a contract. We want to be respectful and wait because he has a release clause which is once the tournament ends. We will communicate it to the club and we will sit down and negotiate his departure and release clause. We want things to go well in the final games he has left [Malaga, Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Osasuna]."
Sampaoli, who is completing his first campaign as a coach in Europe, announced last week he had an offer to manage Argentina, but would only consider it once the La Liga season is over.
Reports in Spain claim Sampaoli will be unveiled as the new Argentina coach on May 22, one day after Sevilla's final game of the season at home to Osasuna, thus allowing the new coach to make the squad announcements for the national team's international friendlies against Brazil on June 6 and against Singapore a week later.
Argentina are fifth in South American World Cup qualifying with four games to play. Only the top four are assured of spots for the competition in Russia with the fifth-placed team heading to a continental playoff.
Sampaoli is hoping to lead Sevilla to a third-place finish in La Liga to clinch direct Champions League qualification for the Andalusian outfit. Sevilla beat Celta Vigo 2-1 on Thursday to move level on 68 points with Atletico Madrid, who are third and hold the last direct Champions League qualifying spot.
"We knew this was a key game for our fight for third place," Sampaoli told his club's official website after the win. "We were able to move level and now we are thinking about Monday's game [at Malaga]."
Sampaoli says he expects a thrilling end-of-season battle with Atletico, coached by his compatriot Diego Simeone.
"We know that the fight with this team [Atletico] that is great is going to be very difficult," Sampaoli said. "But we are hopeful of playing our remaining games as we did against Celta. Our duty is to go out and win the last four games. We have to think of ourselves and see what happens at the end."
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.