Argentina’s World Cup-winning coach Lionel Scaloni has signed a new contract until the 2026 World Cup, the Argentine football federation announced on Monday.
Scaloni, who took over the role in 2018 and guided Lionel Messi’s team to glory in Qatar in December, agreed to the new deal while attending the FIFA Best awards in Paris.
Argentine football chief “Claudio Tapia and Lionel Scaloni met to finalise the extension of his contract until 2026.” a statement from the federation read under the headline “Continuity assured”.
Scaloni, 44, led Argentina to the Copa America title in 2021 – the Albiceleste’s first international trophy since 1993.
He then masterminded the South Americans’ third World Cup title with a penalty shoot-out victory over France in the final in Doha.
He took over as coach from Jorge Sampaoli after a last-16 exit at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, initially on an interim basis before making the job his own.
At the time, not everyone had welcomed the arrival of the understated Scaloni at the helm of the national team.
The late Diego Maradona, himself a former Argentina manager, offered a particularly withering assessment, praising Scaloni’s character but telling the Clarin newspaper: “He’s not even capable of directing traffic.”
Scaloni had no previous experience as a head coach, and was only supposed to be in charge for two months while the federation searched for Sampaoli’s successor.
He inherited a squad scarred by a series of near-misses — the 2014 World Cup final defeat was followed by back-to-back Copa America final losses to Chile on penalties in 2015 and 2016.
His vision for the team impressed, amongst others Messi, who was left disillusioned with international football after the 2018 World Cup exit.
Scaloni led Argentina on a 36-match unbeaten run heading into last year’s World Cup, the highlight of which was the 2021 Copa America triumph in Brazil, which ended a 28-year trophy drought.
Then in Qatar, after a shock opening loss to Saudi Arabia, he engineered a trophy-winning run to complete a Copa America and World Cup double.
Argentina under Scaloni will defend their world title in 2026 in a World Cup jointly hosted by Mexico, the United States and Canada.
Scaloni is in the running along with Carlo Ancelotti of Real Madrid and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola for FIFA’s Best coach award to be announced in Paris later Monday.