No Chelsea regrets for Sampaoli as Sevilla mount title challenge

By Iain Strachan 24 January 2017
No Chelsea regrets for Sampaoli as Sevilla mount title challenge

Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli does not appear to regret missing out on the Chelsea job to Antonio Conte, as he aims to bring LaLiga glory to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Sampaoli, who won the Copa America in style with Chile in 2015, has previously claimed he was Chelsea's first choice to replace Jose Mourinho.

Giving an interview with Radio Vorterix in his native Argentina last year, the 56-year-old said his chances of taking over at Stamford Bridge suffered a fatal blow when it became apparent that former Juventus boss Conte, then in charge of Italy's national team, would be available following Euro 2016.

Chelsea are sure to be happy with their decision, Conte having steered the Blues to an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League. 

But Sampaoli is also thriving, with Sevilla second in LaLiga, ahead of reigning champions Barcelona and just one point behind leaders Real Madrid.

"There were a lot of teams interested but the call came from [Sevilla's director of football] Monchi and for us it was very interesting and exciting, we were also in negotiations with Chelsea," Sampaoli told Radio Onda Cero.

"Seville is an amazing city, with a lot of passion and interest in football and when I am in the stadium, the hymn, the songs of the fans… it is incredible."

Of his team's somewhat unexpected status as a legitimate challenger for the biggest prize, he added: "We will fight for the league title with what we have.

"I wanted originally to reach beyond fifth or sixth place and I wanted a level of… fight to appear in the players to get higher positions.

"You always have to have a dream, you have to reinvent yourself constantly to maintain [it]."

In addition to vying for a first top-flight title since 1946, Sevilla have a winnable Champions League round-of-16 tie against floundering Premier League holders Leicester City coming up, starting with the first leg at home on February 22. 

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Iain Strachan

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