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Sevilla's Jorge Sampaoli: I cannot turn down opportunity to coach Argentina

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli said on Friday the chance to coach his native Argentina was one he "cannot turn down."

However, Sampaoli denied media reports that he had already named a national team squad for next month's international friendlies.

The 57-year-old told a news conference: "My country wants me as national team coach and I've had that dream since I was a boy.

"Last summer, I couldn't leave because I had already committed myself to Sevilla and built the squad alongside [former sporting director] Monchi.

"This time, it is different. The opportunity to guide the national team has come along again and, as an Argentinian, I cannot turn it down.

"Even if this means that I may not have the opportunity to coach again European clubs, I feel I have to do this."

Sampaoli is set to replace the sacked Edgardo Bauza, with the Argentina Football Association (AFA) keen to complete a deal ahead of next month's friendlies against Brazil and Singapore.

He is under contract at Sevilla until June 2018 but can leave if his €1.5 million release clause is paid. Club president Pepe Castro has warned the AFA it will have to pay in full before he can leave.

"I'm not going to leave Sevilla for another club, but for my national team," Sampaoli added. "But today I'm not the coach of Argentina. There is a contract that the AFA and Sevilla have to resolve, and it's not in my hands.

"I don't want any friction with Sevilla, whom I am grateful to."

Sampaoli hit out at reports in Argentina that said he had already submitted an Argentina squad list, saying the media "are trying to make people think that I've done something under the table."

Earlier this week, Ole newspaper reported that Sampaoli would not be on the bench for Sevilla's last game of the season at home to Osasuna on Saturday so he could focus on Argentina.

But he said: "No one is going to take Sevilla's last game away from me. This day has to be a celebration and I would not have forgiven myself not to manage this game.

"I don't know how the fans will greet me, but what I want is for them to remember the team."

Asked about compatriot Eduardo Berizzo, the Celta Vigo coach considered the leading candidate to replace him, Sampaoli said: "I have great respect for him, but it's not up to me to say who the ideal candidate for Sevilla would be."

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.


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