Argentina: Mario Kempes offers to replace Jorge Sampaoli after World Cup debacle
Argentina great Mario Kempes has offered to take charge of his national team amid reports that the country's federation are considering several candidates to succeed Jorge Sampaoli, including Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola.
Clarin report that the Argentina Football Association (AFA) want to sack Sampaoli after the Albiceleste's poor showing at the World Cup, where they won one and lost two of their four encounters on Russian soil.
Under Sampaoli, who took over the national team last summer and is tied to AFA until June 2022, Argentina reached the round of 16 but fell to a 4-3 defeat to France.
"It's not easy to carry forward the national team because you have a whole country behind," Kempes, an ESPN football analyst and commentator, said. "But I would be willling to take charge of the Argentina national team."
Kempes is not the only former Argentina legend to have offered his services, with Diego Maradona recently claiming he would return to coach the national team "for free."
However, the duo are not among the candidates reportedly shortlisted to replace Sampaoli, should the latter be dismissed.
Local media claim five coaches, four of them Argentine -- River Plate's Marcelo Gallardo, Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone, Ricardo Gareca and Tottenham's Mauricio Pochettino -- and Guardiola, are the key contenders.
Gareca, who guided Peru to their first World Cup since 1982, is a free agent and says managing Argentina would be "alluring to anyone."
Guardiola recently signed a contract extension with City to keep him tied to the Premier League champions until June 2021.
Diario Ole has not completely ruled out the Spaniard. The Buenos Aires-based sports paper wrote: "Guardiola to the national team? A crazy rumour or a possible fantasy?" However, TyC Sport claim the chances of seeing the former Barcelona coach in charge of Argentina are virtually none. They wrote: "Guardiola, the impossible dream."
The idea of having a foreign coach take over the Albiceleste would not be welcomed by all, with former Argentina international Oscar Ruggeri threatening to walk off a live TV sports show after hearing that Guardiola was among the reported candidates.
When Ruggeri, a 1986 World Cup winner, who is commentating in Russia, heard Guardiola's name, he got upset at the idea of Argentina having a foreign coach and almost walked out during the "90 minutosFox" TV show.
He then shouted: "I'm leaving because I don't want to! I don't want to! Guardiola can coach Spain, why can't he coach Spain? We have coaches. Is Cholo [Simeone] bad? Is he worse than Guardiola? If Cholo doesn't come and neither does Gallardo, I will personally go and get Gareca. I will kidnap him and throw him inside [Argentina's headquarters] Ezeiza. I will guard that door and not let him leave."
Sampaoli, meanwhile, arrived in Buenos Aires on Wednesday with his future unclear. AFA's secretary of national teams Jorge Miadosqui has denied reports that Sampaoli has been asked to quit.
"No AFA executive has asked him [Sampaoli] to resign," he told Diario Ole: "He is under contract and there are still a lot of things to analyse. We have to be calm. We will evaluate what happened in Russia once we return to Argentina. His continuity is the decision of the Executive Committee and not just of [AFA president Claudio] Tapia."