Jorge Sampaoli has a very clear idea about the Chilean team and some of its players. He was already clear about them back in 2015 when he confessed to journalists about the problems of the squad. As Chile fail to qualify for World Cup 2018, these remarks have been published by Las Ultimas Noticias, a newspaper in the South American country.
One of the worst, he said, was Arturo Vidal who he accused of enjoying partying and alcohol too much and related poor performances. The controversial statements were made by the Argentine during the Copa America in 2015, which Chile, the team he was managing at the time, ended up winning. But speaking about some of the team he said, almost prophetically: "None of them were at the right level for the qualifying campaign we had in front of us."
Sampaoli on Chile: player assessment
Arturo Vidal: "He requires a medical specialist. He likes to drink and is not in control. When we were on the plane back from Lima, he asked me if he could open a bottle of beer he had bought at the airport. I told him no, as directors and others were coming. With the help of the chauffer, he and some others still got their hands on a bottle of whisky, which I had to dismiss even though I knew that the culprit was Vidal."
Gary Medel: "He likes to go out and have fun, but he does not drink [alcohol] anymore"
Eduardo Vargas: "Every time I see him turn up for Chile, he is worse than before"
Matías Fernández: "He no longer gives enough to play to the level that I want for the national team"
Mauricio Pinilla: "He only thinks about the parties when I get them together"
Alexis Sánchez: "He wakes up with his headphones on and sits alone for breakfast, not talking to anyone."
Claudio Bravo: "He attempts to head up the squad but it's the rest of the 'Pitillo gang' who actually lead the team."
[The Pitillo gang was the name given to a group of friends within the national team squad, namely, Jorge Valdivia, Arturo Vidal, Gonzalo Jara and Claudio Bravo; along with Jean Beausejour, Mauricio Pinilla, Gary Medel and Eduardo Vargas]
No Chile, but Argentina in World Cup
At the same time as Chile crashed out of the qualification positions for Russia 2018, Sampaoli secured a place at the summer showpiece tournament for his home nation, Argentina...with a little help from Lionel Messi.