Sevilla threaten Argentina FA over Sampaoli move
La Liga side Sevilla said Wednesday they are prepared to take legal action against the Argentine Football Association (AFA) over their plans to poach coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Edgardo Bauza was sacked as national team boss on Monday as the two-time world champions risk missing out on the World Cup next year as they sit fifth in the 10-team South American qualifying group.
New AFA president Claudio Tapia announced his intention to travel to Spain to meet with potential candidates for the job including Sampaoli and Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone, as well as gauging the opinion of senior players like Barcelona duo Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano.
“Sevilla FC has today sent a letter to the AFA in which it states that, in the case of these comments being true, Sevilla FC would consider it a lack of respect,” Sevilla said in a statement.
“And, at the same time, unacceptable any meeting or contact with the coach leading to a breaking of contract with the club, and thus will not think twice about considering their legal options.”
Sampaoli is under contract with Sevilla until 2018.
However, he has not hidden his desire to coach Messi either at club level with Barcelona or with the national team.
“I want to manage Messi to be able to watch him from the sideline every day,” Sampaoli told Argentine newspaper Ole recently.
“It is a unique dream to be able to see the best in the world up close.”
Sampaoli’s stock has fallen in recent weeks after an excellent start to his debut season coaching in Europe as Sevilla suffered a six-game winless streak prior to Saturday’s 4-2 win over Deportivo la Coruna.
The 57-year-old is expected to miss out on the Barca job when Luis Enrique steps down at the end of the season, but has proved his credentials at international level.
His Chile side beat Argentina on penalties to win the Copa America in 2015.
Simeone has masterminded a huge turnaround in Atletico’s fortunes since taking over in December 2011 and has not hidden his ambitions to one day coach Argentina.
However, he too is under contract until the end of next season.
Whoever takes charge will likely have to do without Messi for three of Argentina’s remaining four qualifiers as he was slapped with a four-game ban for insulting an assistant referee in last month’s 1-0 win over Chile.
Only the top four qualify automatically for the tournament in Russia with fifth-place earning a playoff against the winners of the Oceania region.