Argentina legend Diego Maradona has offered to return as national team coach for free after finding it will cost almost £17million to sack Jorge Sampaoli.
Argentine FA bosses were hoping that their boss would resign following the 4-3 World Cup exit at the hands of France on Saturday after a campaign that was wrecked by dressing room unrest.
But Sampaoli insists he wants to continue – and he will demand the remaining four years of his contract is paid in full if he is dismissed.
That will cost the cash-strapped AFA £16.8million.
And Maradona – the genius who captained his country to their second World Cup triumph in 1986 – said: “I wish God would give me strength to return as a player.
“Seeing my national team beaten by a team that is not even one of the best in the tournament was very hard.
“It makes me feel bad to see everything we built with so much effort destroyed so easily.
“I would go back to the national team – and I would do it for free. I would not ask for anything in return.
Maradona, who attended every Argentina game in Russia, has only just taken up a role as director of football with Belorussian club Dinamo Brest after being sacked as coach of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.
His previous stint in charge of Argentina was ended by a 4-0 thrashing by Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Sampaoli has only just flown home to Argentina after remaining at the squad’s base just outside Moscow following the defeat by France.
He is expected to meet with AFA president Claudio Tapia in the next 72 hours