Abu Dhabi: River Plate coach Marcelo Gallardo has quashed rumours about him moving to Europe after winning Sunday’s Copa Libertadores final 3-1 over arch-rivals Boca Juniors.
“We have a contract until 2021,” he told Argentinian radio, after a second leg win in Madrid gave them a 5-3 aggregate over Boca, qualifying them for the seven-team Fifa Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi from December 12-22.
It was his second Copa victory as coach of the club since joining in 2014 after beating Mexico’s Tigres in 2015, his third with River if one counts his win as a player against Colombia’s America in 1996.
A 25-year association with the Buenos Aires side split over three spells as a player and one as a manager, he said, was more important than any European offer.
“That to me is priceless,” he said. “I wake up every morning and I enjoy going to work.
“This win was one of the happiest moments because of all it represented and because of what it means to the fans. It’s something that can never be erased.”
This was the first time Boca and River had met in the Copa final in the 58-year history of the competition.
An attack on Boca’s team bus by River fans led to the first two attempts to play the second leg in Buenos Aires in late November being abandoned, before Madrid was chosen as a safer alternative venue.
Gallardo had been tipped for Europe where Argentine coaches like Real Madrid’s Santiago Solari, Atletico’s Diego Simeone, Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino and Leeds’ Marcelo Bielsa are in vogue.
Ironically, River will most likely play Solari’s Real Madrid in an all-Argentine-coached final of the Club World Cup, that’s providing both sides survive their semi-finals on December 18 and 19.
River captain Leonardo Ponzio said of Gallardo after the final: “He will go to Europe at some point, but right now he’s at his home and it’s hard for him to leave. It’s important that he has told us he wants to stay. But, of course, like everyone else one day he will go to Europe.”