Jorge Sampaoli confirms Argentina interest but says any move must wait

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli has acknowledged for the first time that Argentina want him to coach the national team.

Sampaoli, under contract with the club until June 2018, is reported to be the Argentina Football Association (AFA)'s main candidate to replace the sacked Edgardo Bauza.

Asked about those reports at a news conference on Thursday, Sampaoli said the timing of a move would have to be right to avoid "hurting" Sevilla.

He added: "I know that there is an interest, because to deny it would be to lie to all of you.

"I know they say that I'm the chosen one, but they [the AFA] will have to wait until the time is right in order to do it in a manner that doesn't damage anyone.

"To do it right now would be to hurt Sevilla, and I'm not going to allow that to happen.

"I know there is a real intention, but when the time comes to have a dialogue with the AFA president [Claudio Tapia], most likely the message will be that, until the end of the season, I cannot meet with anyone because my head is focused here."

Former Chile coach Sampaoli took the reins at Sevilla last summer and turned down the opportunity to coach Argentina in August after Gerardo Martino had stepped down.

He was offered a one-year contract extension by Sevilla earlier this year but he has yet to accept it and can leave in the summer provided his €1.5 million release clause is met.

"Just as a player has a right to leave if his release clause is paid, so does a coach," Sampaoli said.

"I have to wait and see what Sevilla's intentions are. The president [Jose Castro] told me that he will talk to me after our last six games."