Maradona moves closer to new Argentina contract

Argentina coach Diego Maradona is keen to sign a new contract - so long as he is allowed to retain his entire backroom staff.

The 49-year-old will today hold talks with Argentinian Football Association president Julio Grondona, who wants the 1986 World Cup winner to pen a new four-year deal.

"I really want to stay, but it depends on Grondona," Maradona told El Show del Futbol on America TV last night after returning to Buenos Aires following a trip to Venezuela to visit president Hugo Chavez.

"If they touch a hair of one of my guys, even if the masseur or the kitman, I'm going. I want to continue the adventure but not with (just) anyone. I chose these people. I want to continue working with them."

One of Maradona's assistants, former Argentina defender Oscar Ruggeri has been criticised by Grondona in the wake of the team's World Cup exit.

"I already asked and I will continue to ask that Ruggeri joins me," he added. "It's a constant struggle. This is the first thing I will discuss with Grondona."

Argentina struggled to qualify for South Africa after Maradona took over from previous coach Alfio Basile and their campaign came to an end with a 4-0 defeat to Germany in the last eight.

Nevertheless, Grondona believes Maradona has been successful so far in difficult circumstances.

He told Radio Mitre last week: "He took over at a very difficult moment and he qualified, which is important.

"And he finished fifth, better than in other World Cups - all of that should be valued.

"It seems to me to be only correct that he stay on. I don't see why not."

However, he added of Ruggeri: "His name was put forward by me, but we had lots of problems.

"And I'll tell you something you may find funny - he was the defensive coach."

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