Sampaoli focused on Leicester amid Barca links

Europa League holders aims to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in the Champions League era

Afp February 21, 2017
Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli during the press conference. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEVILLA: Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli insisted his focus is solely on making history in the Champions League despite increasing speculation the Argentine could take charge of Barcelona next season.

The Europa League holders host struggling English champions Leicester City in the first leg of their last 16 tie on Wednesday hoping to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in the Champions League era.

However, Barcelona's 4-0 Champions League hammering at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain last week has put Sampaoli's name at the head of the queue should Barca boss Luis Enrique not have his contract renewed at the end of the season.

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"At the moment the only thing that appeals to us is to live in the present," Sampaoli said on Tuesday.

"This game is the most important thing for us, to be among the best eight teams in the most important tournament in the world, and to think about anything else for me would be irresponsible."

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Barca's interest allied to a fine debut season at the Sanchez Pizjuan with Sevilla also riding high in third in La Liga has even seen club reportedly set to offer Sampaoli an improved deal to stay in Seville.

However, he believes the pressure now being put on Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri just months after achieving the seemingly impossible in winning the Premier League is a sign that he can't get carried away with the plaudits coming his way.

"We live in the present and maybe in two weeks this (praise) won't happen because it has to do with momentaneous success. There has to be a much wider analysis," added Sampaoli.

"But the fact that the club has the intention to think about a new contract pleases us and we will evaluate it."