Guarantees before commitment
Jorge Sampaoli wants indications Sevilla can continue to challenge Spain and Europe's elite before committing to an extended contract with the LaLiga high flyers.
Former Chile boss Sampaoli is in the first season of a two-year deal at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan but has emerged as favourite to succeed Luis Enrique at Barcelona - who announced his decision to leave Camp Nou at the end of the season on Wednesday - having steered Sevilla into a three-way title race with the Catalan giants and their bitter rivals Real Madrid.
Sevilla also hold a 2-1 advantage over Leicester City in their Champions League last-16 tie and will look to make it five straight wins in all competitions when they entertain Athletic Bilbao in Spain's top flight on Thursday.
Talks started but Monchi linked
Speaking at a pre-match news conference, Sampaoli stated talks with the club were still at an informal stage and emphasised the importance of "sporting structure" – arguably a reference to the status of highly respected director of football Monchi.
Widely hailed as the architect of a golden period that has yielded five Europa League triumphs over the past 11 seasons, including each of the last three, Monchi asked to end 16 years of service at Sevilla for "personal reasons" at the end of last term but the request was rejected by the club.
Monchi has been linked to a number of European clubs, including Manchester United, Real Madrid, Everton and, most recently, Roma.
Maintaining Sevilla's worldwide respect
"[My contract renewal] will depend on the sporting objectives and on the structure of the club," Sampaoli said. "Sevilla is gaining a lot of respect across the globe and this level has to be maintained with a great sporting structure.
"We'll have to see what the club wants with its coaching staff. The objective of the club and the plan for the future has to be clear. Then, if we can help to keep the fans' happiness going, it would be welcome."
"We're talking about intentions right now, not formalities. We have a contract and we can only control this reality. Everything else is about intentions, which were not discussed in a formal meeting. There isn't time for anything which isn't thinking about our next opponent."
The games keep coming thick and fast
Next week brings LaLiga games against Alaves and Leganes but Sampaoli has kept an eye on Leicester, who bounced back from the shock sacking of title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri to beat Liverpool 3-1 on Monday.
"I think the champions of England are back, having overcome Liverpool by scoring three goals," he added, with Sevilla's trip to the King Power Stadium coming on March 14.
"They have rediscovered themselves and it's going be very challenging for us."
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