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Tata Martino “focused on talking to Atlanta”

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Atlanta United’s manager continues to claim no decision has been made on his future.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Atlanta United FC Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Adding to a cascade of mounting international reports, TyC Sports reported Thursday evening that Tata Martino is expected to decline Atlanta United’s contract offer, as he prefers to return to international management.

The report, which includes no apparent sourcing, doesn’t add much more information about Martino’s future other than what has been reported elsewhere—that Martino will decline an extension and likely take over either the Mexican or Argentine national teams.

Martino spoke to reporters Friday morning before Atlanta United training, and continued to refute the validity of the reports. He joked that he’s even seen reports of him managing at Publix after the season.

“This week, we’re absolutely focused on Red Bulls, and after this game we’ll go back and talk with Darren [Eales],” Martino said through a translator. “I’m taking it with humor this morning. It’s funny in these situations where I’m always asked to clarify things, but the people that should be clarifying it are the people making these claims in all the reports. I’ll repeat that we are focused on talking to Atlanta.”

Martino and club decision makers will meet sometime Monday, Oct. 1, where the two parties are expected to come to a conclusion on Martino’s future. Tata Martino left the door open for communication to continue between himself and the club after the October 1 date.

“It would be a deadline to respect if there hadn’t been any kind of talks, but we’ve been in continuous talks up until this point,” Martino explained. “Because of that, I don’t think we have to make any kind of decision because of the way we’ve been talking about this situation.”

The TyC report is as much about Martino as it is about Jorge Sampaoli, the Argentine who led his nation in this summer’s FIFA World Cup. The report states that several teams are interested in Sampaoli, including Atlanta United if Martino is to make a decision to leave after the season. But like Martino, Atlanta reportedly wishes to refrain from negotiation until a conclusion and agreement has been reached regarding the current manager’s future.

Sampaoli’s credibility has taken a hit since his team’s disappointing performance in both this summer’s World Cup as well as the qualification that lead up to it, where Argentina snuck in on the last matchday thanks to a Lionel Messi hat trick.

Prior to his stint with Argentina, Sampaoli most recently managed at Sevilla for one season in 2016-17, where he led the club to a fourth-place finish in La Liga, qualifying for the next season’s Champions League.

Before Sevilla, he lead the Chilean national team for four years, from 2012-2016, with the 2014 World Cup bisecting his tenure. At that tournament, Sampaoli led Chile past Spain in the group stage to advance to the Round of 16 where his side lost heartbreakingly in penalties to tournament favorites and hosts Brazil. The following season, Sampaoli continued his fine run in Chile, leading the nation to its first ever Copa America title. The win ratcheted up Sampaoli’s prestige and he was named as one of three finalists in 2015 for FIFA World Coach of the Year, alongside Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich and Luis Enrique at Barcelona.