Jorge Sampaoli was defiant over his seemingly imminent appointment as Argentina head coach after Sevilla completed their LaLiga season with a 5-0 win over Osasuna.
Sampaoli confirmed his intention to take charge of his country’s ailing World Cup qualification campaign this week but a deal is yet to be reached between the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and Sevilla.
Speaking after braces from Vitolo and Franco Vazquez either side of a Stevan Jovetic strike saw off already relegated opponents, Sampaoli reiterated his stance that Argentina was the only job he would leave the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan to take.
Countryman Eduardo Berizzo is reportedly already lined up as the 57-year-old’s successor after Europa League semi-finalists Celta Vigo announced he would step down following their match with Real Sociedad on Sunday.
“The way of accepting that I go to Argentina does not depend on me exclusively, it’s not up to me,” said Sampaoli, who was widely rumoured to have had a say on the Argentina squad that was named on Friday for their forthcoming friendly with Brazil.
“Argentina has to resolve my contract with Sevilla. I cannot generate pressure for someone to hire me. The AFA will have to be bound to my obligations and rights in that contract.”
Sampaoli was booed by a section of the Sevilla support when his name was announced over the stadium loudspeaker on Saturday.
He blamed the media for whipping up hostility against him during the AFA’s drawn-out courtship which has coincided with an end-of-season slump.
“I felt no wrong in the field,” he said. “If they poked me, the battle was won by those who wanted to have whistles.
“I’m not leaving here not for money or as a mercenary; I’m going to the national team of my country.”
Sevilla conclude an overall impressive season in fourth place, with a spot in next season’s Champions League play-offs secured having threatened an unlikely title tilt before their form tailed off considerably in March.
“We were deluded and we dreamed at some moments to fight the league, something very difficult,” Sampaoli added.
“That they would take us into consideration to fight with the [teams] above gave us a very strange sensation. The rivals maintained regularity that we did not have in a fateful month.
“We achieved 72 points and I am very proud to have participated in this project.”
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