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SPORTS | 05-09-2019 16:58

Maradona agrees deal to become coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata

Presentation to unveil Argentine footballing legend as new head coach of 'El Lobo' set for tomorrow at a hotel in La Plata.

Yes, it's true: El Diez is coming back to Argentine football.

Local footballing legend Diego Maradona has agreed a deal to become the new coach of Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata, his lawyer Matías Morla confirmed this afternoon. 

Posting a photograph on Twitter of himself , his client and Gimnasia President Gabriel Pellegrino, Morla added a simple caption that read: "With Diego and the president. A new stage begins."

The club also confirmed the news on Twitter. "Welcome Diego! Every corner of the most beautiful club in the world greets you," the La Plata-based club said in a post.

The former Albiceleste coach quit his job at Mexican second division outfit Dorados in June for health reasons after just nine months in charge.

Earlier Thursday, Pellegrino had met with Morla in Puerto Madero to finalise the contract, before heading off to meet the footballing legend at his home in the town of Bella Vista, Buenos Aires Province. 

Argentina's 1986 World Cup winning captain has been recuperating in Buenos Aires over the last few months after undergoing a knee operation in July. He said earlier this week that he was ready to return to football. 

Speaking in a video posted on Wednesday, Maradona thanked Gimnasia for their interest in hiring him and said he was recuperating nicely after undergoing surgery on his knee. According to press reports, he may also have to undergo surgey on his left shoulder, which was last operated on in 2017.

"I have been operated on very recently. That the people of Gimnasia...  have put me again [under consideration) for my distant achievements or because they are 'Maradonian' – it is a very nice thing," said the former Albiceleste star and coach.

Prior to his tweet, Morla had publicly expressed confidence that a deal would be signed. “The agreement is 80 percent done, all that remains is to agree formal and administrative data – that will be resolved," he told TyC Sports.

The lawyer said his client had the enthusiasm and desire to coach again in Argentina. “Diego is happy. He wants to take on a new challenge and is eager to lead,” he added.

Maradona is expected to be unveiled as El Lobo's new coach at a downtown hotel in La Plata on Friday afternoon.

Financial boost

The arrival of a world-famous star such as Maradona – despite his relatively poor coaching career – should deliver a huge boost to the Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata's coffers.

Speaking Thursday, club Treasurer Gerardo Marzola acknowledged that the Argentine legend's arrival will provide "a large amount" of economic income.

Marzola said Maradona's arrival would help "make new partners and recover those who stopped paying."

"Currently, we have 25,000 associates of which just under 20,000 pay. Today, before the headquarters opened, there were fans queuing to join up," he said.

"We also hope for the arrival of new sponsors, to cover the free spaces on the shirt and to see if we can negotiate television rights for training sessions, in addition to some other lower income," Marzola told the Noticias Argentinas news agency.

"Honestly, I had no dimension of everything that arrives, that Maradona could generate. People are crazy, the phone does not stop ringing – friends from Boca, River, Estudiantes are calling and we even had foreign media [getting in touch] to cover the presentation. We expect a lot of revenue if Diego comes," he said.

Should Maradona sign his contract in the next couple of days, his first competitive match as head coach would be in front of his new club's fans against champions Racing Club at Sunday, September 15.

Gimnasia are currently rooted to the bottom of the Superliga, with just one point from the last five games. 

The Carmelo Zerillo stadium has a capacity of 21,500 and Gimnasia officials are said to be looking at how to maximise corporate revenue for the occasion.

– TIMES/NA
 

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