BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – The Argentine soccer federation is after Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli.
Sampaoli said Friday that his country's soccer body will negotiate with Spanish club Sevilla to secure his release so he can become the national team coach.
''There is a clear intention by my country to have me as its national coach, and I have had that dream since I was very young,'' Sampaoli said a day before what could be his last match for Sevilla.
Sampaoli has one year remaining on a two-year contract with the Spanish club.
''The issue of the contract must be dealt with by the club and the federation,'' Sampaoli said. ''If they reach a deal, the Argentine federation and the club, I want it to be done without any discrepancies. It is of utmost importance that there is an understanding between both parties.''
Argentina has been without a coach since it fired Edgardo Bauza in April.
Despite counting on forward Lionel Messi, Argentina is on one of its worst runs in years. It is struggling to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, currently sitting in fifth place in the South American group after winning only six of 14 matches.
Part of Argentina's malaise is thanks to Sampaoli.
The 57-year-old Argentine made his name internationally by coaching Chile to its first Copa America title in 2015, when it beat Argentina in the final. Argentina lost a rematch with Chile in the Copa America final last year, after Sampaoli had left. Argentina also lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany.
''Every human being has a dream and mine is to coach the national team of my country,'' he said. ''I feel I must go. I must respond to the need of my country. One chapter ends, another one begins that I wasn't expecting. As an Argentine, I can't turn it down.''
Sampaoli had inspired Sevilla to an outside run at the Spanish league title with 13 wins in the first 19 matches. But it only won three of the next 12 matches and is likely to finish in fourth place, good enough for a playoff for the Champions League.
That dip in his team's form coincided with the first rumors linking him to the Argentine job following Bauza's firing. Sampaoli had denied such speculation.
Sevilla will play its final match of the season on Saturday against Osasuna.