Jorge Sampaoli, former coach of the Argentine national team, will be taking the helm at Santos in 2019, club president Jose Carlos Peres said Thursday.
“Santos is synonymous with talented young players, offensive soccer and a historic and unique magic. Nobody better to command that potential than an experienced coach of international stature, and with new ideas,” Peres said in a statement.
One of Brazil’s most successful clubs, Santos was the home in the 1960s of Pele, widely regarded as the greatest footballer in history.
“We might not have the biggest budget in Brazilian soccer, but we have the best brand among domestic clubs and we know how to use it,” Peres said, linking the deal with Sampaoli to earlier signings of international stars such as Costa Rica’s Bryan Ruiz and Derlis Gonzalez of Paraguay.
Santos began the search for a new coach after incumbent Alexi Stival, better known as Cuca, stepped down for health reasons.
Brazilian Web site Lance reported that Santos contacted Sampaoli after being turned down by Abel Braga, who signed to coach Flamengo, and Ariel Holan, who decided to remain with Argentina’s Independiente.
Sampaoli, 58, coached Argentina during the 2018 World Cup, where they were eliminated in the knockout stage by eventual champion France.
He won the 2015 Copa America as coach of the Chilean national team and has been with clubs such as Universidad de Chile and Spain’s Sevilla.