Jorge Luis Sampaoli the former manager of the Chilean national team, and the current manager of Sevilla FC is nearing a deal with the Argentine Football Association to become the team’s new manager after the end of the current La Liga season.
The 57-year old Sampaoli fulfills his dream of managing the national team, and had no doubt this was his only option once the initial contact was made, despite interest from the Holland National team, and the large amounts of money being offered by the Qatari federation to become the new manager. The manager born in Santa Fe recently said in an interview to the Argentinian newspapers “Ole” that there “was nothing that motivated me more than to become the new national manager.” Especially due to his admiration for Lionel Messi, even confessing that coaching Messi would be a dream come true.
Sampaoli would replace Edgardo Bauza who took over the team last August, but who hasn’t been able to make the team compete at a high level. In Bauza’s short 8 game tenyard the team has only won three matches, tied two and lost three, including the most recent defeat against ninth placed Bolivia. Even in their wins against Uruguay and Chile, the team hasn’t played competitively given the quality of the players it possesses, and many believe that Bauza hasn’t been able to lead a transition to a younger generation and still relies too much on players past their prime like Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria.
With the current situation of Argentina in the standings and the risk of not qualifying to the 2018 World Cup, the Association lost its patience with Bauza’s system and decided to act quickly. Argentina currently have 22 points and are fifth in the Conmebol World Cup qualifiers, a position that wouldn’t guarantee their presence in Russia, since they would have to play the inter-conference playoffs against New Zealand if they finished fifth in the standings. However, what’s more preoccupying is that the sixth placed team, which is currently Ecuador, is only 2 points behind them, and any team that doesn’t finish in the top 5 is automatically eliminated.
Argentina have 4 matches left in the qualifiers, an away game August 31 against Uruguay, a home game versus Venezuela on September 5, followed by a home game against Peru on October 5, and ending with an away game against Ecuador on October 10. Besides this complicated schedule they have the added difficulty of having to deal with Lionel Messi’s international suspension for the referee incident on the game against Chile. Messi was suspended for 4 international games, and for that reason he couldn’t play against Bolivia, and won’t be able to play again until the last game, unless FIFA ratifies their decision.