Jorge Sampaoli sat down with the press at the Ciudad Deportivo on Thursday afternoon to discuss recent speculation linking him with the Argentina national team job and Friday’s fixture against Granada at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán.
The Sevilla manager insists that his thoughts are firmly on the present, and that he has not considered his future beyond the end of the season.
He said: “We have to be very present in a difficult stage, because it’s in the final where lots of things are played for. We are going to have to play very well in the upcoming games which are defining for everyone.
“I know that there is an interest, to deny that would be lying to you, I know that they say that I’m the chosen one, but they will have to wait for a time that suits everyone to do it in a way that doesn’t harm anyone, because to do it now would damage Sevilla and I am not going to let that happen. At the start of the year I had the same opportunity and since I had committed myself to the club and the players and turned down the chance to go to Argentina. This is a time where the team needs to be focused on qualifying for the Champions League. I can’t be a distraction from that.
“I am focused on the present and everything that comes with that. I can’t think about the future when there is so much to play for at Sevilla now. I am very calm because I am not going to begin any conversations that are not to do with the games that remain. The truth is that I don’t have the time or ability to manage both things at the same time. I am thinking about the present here at Sevilla and it is something that really excites me, arriving at the stadium and thinking about the supporters and the possibility of qualifying for the Champions League. I don’t have anything else to think about other than that and everything that comes in the future will be seen in the future.”
The 57-year-old was asked about his relationship with Fernando Baredes, to which he responded: “He is someone who I’ve known for a long time, but since I started as a coach he has not had any influence on my contract. If you analyse my contractual situations at the last five clubs that I’ve been at, I’ve managed them myself, I don’t have a representative. I don’t know what meeting you’re talking to me about, I can’t talk about meetings that aren’t my responsibility. I can’t be sure of the meeting; the president of the AFA [Argentine Football Association] denied it. I have managed myself throughout my career; coming to Sevilla was down to a sporting project with Monchi and then arriving here.”
He continued: “I’ve had the chance to talk to six new projects, but I haven’t done that because each new project deserves an analysis and at the moment I don’t have the time for it. Neither for the analysis of what will happen at Sevilla next season, nor for what I will do next season. I know that there is a real interest, but should the time come for there to be a dialogue with the president of the AFA, surely the message will be that until the end of the season I can’t speak to anyone because undoubtedly I have my mind focused on what I’m doing here. With so many games on the spin I can’t think about two things at once.
“I have a contract for two years here and I have clauses within it, we’ll have to see what Sevilla’s intentions are. The president told me that we will have a conversation after the remaining six games. I have the same possibilities as any professional in the world has, such as the right that a player has to leave a club by paying his release clause, a manager has that too. But all of this will be influenced in good time; the most important thing is that I do what is required of me and uphold the responsibility that I have to this group of players.”
The former Chile coach said that he and the club’s president, José Castro, have been in contact. He explained: “I’ve had a meal with the president and vice president and we agreed to only think about the present and once the season finishes we will focus on the future. We have the same objective; he doesn’t want to talk about the future either. He needs Sevilla to be in the Champions League and that’s why I’m here. If what I want to happen doesn’t happen then it will be because of a lack of ability rather than a lack of commitment.”
Sevilla face Granada at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán on Friday evening, and Sampaoli was wary of the threat posed by Tony Adams’ side despite their position in the league table.
He said: “They’re a team with very good footballers that hasn’t been able to function collectively and that’s why they’re down there at the bottom. They haven’t been able to link individual ability with collective functionality. But they are still dangerous for whomever they play against with the players that they have on their day. We have to work well as a team.”
On the fitness of Samir Nasri and Adil Rami, Sampaoli closed: “They are training. They haven’t trained much and we have to talk to them to see if they could be an option. They trained normally, but we have to evaluate if they can becaome an option. They are fully recovered.”