Diego Maradona is "absolutely not interested in coaching a Ligue 1 club", according to the Dubai Sport Council for whom the Argentine legend is a global ambassador.
Maradona has been heavily linked in the French media with the coaching role at Montpellier, which will be vacated by Rene Girard when his contract expires in June. The Ligue 1 champions' president, Louis Nicollin, has publicly declared his interest in appointing the former Argentina boss, who has been out of work since being relieved of his coaching duties at Al Wasl in the United Arab Emirates last July.
However, the Dubai Sport Council, whose president Swaidan Al Naboodah also holds the same function at Al Wasl, claim Maradona is not free to do as he pleases.
"Maradona is under contract with the Dubai Sport Council, which is a global organisation, and of which he is the global ambassador," Younes Bouklit, a Dubai Sport Council presidential advisor, told Montpellier paper Midi Libre. "I've spoken to both the president and Diego about this matter. There's been no contact. He's absolutely not interested in coaching a Ligue 1 club."
Nicollin has repeatedly stated he would be willing to meet Maradona to discuss terms, although he has also admitted that he believes the 1986 World Cup winner's salary demands will be too high for his club. He did reiterate in Midi Libre, however, that there had been contact between the parties.
"We didn't just say that to amuse everyone," he said. "It's Maradona who contacted us via an intermediary whom I know well and whose name I don't want to divulge. Period. If the president of the club over there says it's not true, fine. I really don't care."
While the idea of a world star arriving in the dug-out at the Stade de la Mosson has fuelled the imagination of media and supporters, Maradona's potential future colleagues are less enthusiastic. With some 40 holders of France's top coaching licence currently seeking employment, Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier would rather a compatriot filled the position.
"I would prefer Raymond Domenech to Diego Maradona as I'd prefer a French coach," he said. "The league doesn't need publicity, it needs good coaches. Maradona was a great player, but I'm not sure he's cut out for this job. Having said that, it's up to Montpellier and Mr Nicollin. I think there are plenty of very good French coaches available."