For the first time publicly Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Claudio Tapia has confirmed that Jorge Sampaoli is the only candidate to succeed Edgardo Bauza as manager of Argentina.
Since before the departure of Bauza, Argentina’s links to Sampaoli have been well publicised and while any contact may have been denied by both the AFA and the Sevilla manager, rumours continued to surface.
The AFA’s pursuit irked Sevilla but has not deterred Tapia and his cohorts and amid stories that Sampaoli would be confirmed at the end of the Spanish league season, the 49-year-old president confirmed his firm interest.
“Sampaoli is the chosen one,” Tapia told ESPN on Thursday.
“Today I can say that he is the only candidate, but we are respectful of Sevilla because he is still working there.
“Now we are going to negotiate his exit from Seville. He has a release clause that we will discuss when we have the meeting.”
Although Tapia had previously not stated that Sampaoli was the target, the AFA’s calm approach and time frame set until the end of May suggested that they were simply waiting for the season to finish in Europe and had their man already.
Sampaoli’s well-documented €1.5 million release clause should leave little to negotiate with Sevilla should the 57-year-old want to take the job, as has been suggested.