September 17, 2009

A group made up of presidents of football clubs from Argentina's Primera Division are heading a campaign to have Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola installed as Argentina coach in place of under fire Diego Maradona, according to reports in the Spanish press.

The "Project Guardiola 2010" see the Barca chief as the ideal man to lead the Albicelestes, as he has the know-how to get the best out of Lionel Messi.

"Argentina has a diamond in the rough, it is Messi, and none of the national experts have been able to get the best out of him," Spanish daily Marca quotes the group as saying. "In contrast with Guardiola at Barcelona, Messi won three tournaments in a year."

They say that the only other coach to get Messi firing for Argentina was Sergio Batista, who lead the Olympic team to gold in Beijing in 2008, but they say he does not have the quality for the national side.

"Some people don't want a foreign coach, but national coaches have failed to exploit Messi's ability, except Batista, but he is not qualified to lead the national side," said another unnamed club president.

There is a suggestion that the Argentine Football Association will offer the job to Guardiola after the World Cup in South Africa, and one of the groups seeking the Blaugrana coach says Spain winning the World Cup would be the ideal scenario.

"Argentina are virtually out of the World Cup so we need to pray that Spain win it, so they don't go looking for Guardiola as coach."

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