The official response of Pellegrini, Betis coach, to Chile’s interest in directing his team

“Hopefully; it would be an honor. It’s difficult, but nobody knows what’s going to happen”, assured the veteran Santiago coach about his jump to ‘La Roja’

Connoisseurs say that the South American Qualifiers to go to the World Cup are the toughest in the world due to the high level of most of the teams and, therefore, the requirement to qualify, unlike other confederations such as Concacaf, Oceania or Asia. In this last phase prior to Qatar 2022, powers such as Colombia, Chile or Paraguay have been left out, coming to less in recent years. Counting on the three superpowers (Brazil, Argentina and, to a lesser extent, Uruguay), fourth place (for Ecuador this time) is always very open, while favoritism in the Repechage (Peru Vs. United Arab Emirates or Australia) always smiled at the Columbian continent.

The fiasco in the trans-Andean country is a reality. Martín Lasarte will not continue directing the ‘Roja’, which is why a full-fledged casting has begun to choose his replacement, with Marcelo Bielsa and Manuel Pellegrini as favorites of the experts and fans. The Argentine is free, after his recent dismissal by Leeds United, but the Santiago native has a commitment to Real Betis until June 30, 2025, after extending two more campaigns during last Christmas. In addition, the ‘Ingeniero’ is triumphing in Seville, as he qualified the Verdiblancos for the Europa League as sixth in LaLiga in his first year and is on track to improve in the second, with the Heliopolitan team fifth and in the final of the King’s Cup.

It is nothing new that Pellegrini’s name is linked to the Chilean team. In fact, it is a recurring question in every interview he has given, especially to the media in his country (ESPN, ‘La Tercera’, national TV…), but also here (‘Diario de Sevilla’). Although not this week, the fact is that the veteran coach has already responded extensively to the ‘offer’ that comes from his homeland: “For me, it would be a pride to direct Chile. But, if I return, it is for a general job around the development of soccer, to aspire in a prudent and logical time to bring out a good generation of players. It will be difficult to approach the last one again, because it is a generation that does not happen every day. People like Claudio Bravo, Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sánchez, who are all players who have had the opportunity to play for the biggest clubs in Europe, those institutions that can buy the players they want… Bringing those five players together with six or seven others who have also triumphed in the Old Continent, perhaps at a lower level, is not easy to achieve”.

For Manuel, “local competition should be promoted and, through that, I hope a generation at least similar could be drawn, from which not only the two Copa Americas they won are very engraved, but all that long-term permanence in Europe in the most important clubs”. Therefore, it is clear to him that “a serious project” would be considered there, “but right now (the Federation) does not carry out football operations” as he “would like them to be”. And he delved into the issue: “If I have a discrepancy with a board, I have to go, not the leaders, who are the owners. It’s the same with Chile. It’s my country, I don’t want to fail; if I don’t have a board that believes that It’s the right one to develop football, I’m not going to be guillotined”.

However, Pellegrini does not close any door, making his preferences clear: “Hopefully both things can happen in the future; I would love to improve Chilean football. Not in the sense of going to a World Cup, which is the reflection, but with a development program. Right now, I’m happy at Betis and I have no intention nor am I looking for alternatives to go elsewhere. I’m not considering it. I’ve said it many times… I don’t compare my country to a club, but, As long as I have the option of running clubs, I’m going to run clubs.” In this sense, he doesn’t see himself giving up to take over the reins of ‘La Roja’ next summer: “It’s difficult. I don’t know the current leaders; I don’t know what they think. I have a contract with Real Betis until 2025 and a pretty heavy clause I don’t know if they would be in a position to pay, although nobody knows what will happen. It is still my dream to lead Chile in a World Cup. And I say clearly that with Chile, because, despite the fact that other countries have proposed me, I would never lead to another selection.