The European season might have just ended, but one big-name manager has already made a move. Jorge Sampaoli, after just a year with Sevilla, has answered the call of his country and was unveiled as Argentina manager Thursday evening. Here are five questions and answers as we consider the task ahead of him.
1. What will his style of play be?
The most frequent complaint of Edgardo Bauza's time in charge of Argentina was that he barely managed to pick up any points. The second-most frequent complaint was that his team looked directionless, with no clear idea of how to attack and with far too much emphasis on defence. Sampaoli's track record is well-known here (it could hardly not be, given he was Chile manager for their 2015 Copa America final win over Argentina), and the appointment of a more attack-minded manager is no coincidence.
Sampaoli also likes his teams to be adaptable, though: a hallmark of his Chile side in particular was their ability to switch formations in the blink of an eye, locking down matches at crucial moments and opening up to attack with abandon at others. Certainly, we can expect to see a high-press adopted frequently. Sampaoli's systems have normally been built around giving a talented attacking star support and freedom. He has managed some good ones in his time, and now it's time to find out whether he can ensure Lionel Messi is given a similar amount of help.
2. What changes are likely to the squad?
We already have a small indicator of this even at an early stage, because next week Argentina play a friendly against Brazil in Australia. The squad for that one was announced a couple of weeks ago and, although it was drawn up by Estudiantes de La Plata president and national team secretary Juan Sebastian Veron (yes, that one!), the list had Sampaoli's authorisation -- with Sevilla's permission after the season's main aim of securing Champions League football had been achieved with a match to spare.
The changes to roles within the squad are perhaps as important as players left out or brought in. Most notably, Javier Mascherano has finally been listed as a defender on an Argentina squad list (injury has since ruled him out altogether). That suggests rumours that the new boss wants a midfield who can move the ball more quickly and positively have some substance to them (as does his record to this point), with Inter Milan's Ever Banega, Mascherano's likely replacement in the traditional Argentine No. 5 role at the base of midfield.
Relative newcomers to the national setup include locally based players like Jose Luis Gomez of Lanus, one of the best players of their Primera-winning campaign last year, and River Plate's whippet-like midfielder Ignacio Fernandez, but the headline-grabber is the presence of Mauro Icardi, the centre-forward many have called for a good while now. Icardi played a handful of minutes in a friendly under Alejandro Sabella at a time when the Argentine FA wanted him tied down to his own country's national team and hasn't since featured. His form of late for Inter provides elite-level competition up front for Gonzalo Higuain, though.
As well as these players coming in, others will find fewer chances to play. Nicolas Otamendi is in the current squad but could be among them; Ezequiel Lavezzi's decision to move to China is expected to play against him, and Sampaoli was thought not to be a big fan of Manchester United's Marcos Rojo even before his knee-ligament injury.
3. How will the players take to him?
The ongoing decision by the squad not to talk to the press when on international duty might make it hard to know, but if players were disillusioned by Bauza's more conservative playing style, the same shouldn't be a problem under Sampaoli. As for the most important player of the lot, Sampaoli told the press at his unveiling Thursday evening that, "to see [Messi] so excited by this new era excites us a lot as well." Paulo Dybala and Higuain, meanwhile, were eager to be part of Sampaoli's squad right from the start, which is why they were included on the list despite being involved in Saturday's Champions League final.
Ultimately, though, it's good results that will lift the spirit of the team like nothing else. To that end, two friendlies early on are a boost in as much as they allow the new manager to transmit his ideas to the team straight away and get everyone on the same track before the competitive action gets underway. The fact that the first friendly is against such huge rivals, though, does add pressure.
4. Can he qualify for the World Cup?
With a contract that will take him through to the end of the 2022 World Cup, there is an air of a long-term project about this appointment, but the truth is it's Sampaoli's first four competitive matches in charge which are the reason he has been sought out. Argentina are currently in the playoff spot in South American World Cup qualifying, and it's well within their ability to qualify, but they haven't been playing to their ability recently, and with their next game away to Uruguay there's no margin for error.
5. What do the fans think?
There are a fair number who aren't fans -- "Sampalobby" has become something of a watchword on Twitter among fans who feel media lobbying got him the job -- and in that respect, having never managed in the Argentine Primera, perhaps Sampaoli suffers a bit from the same situation Messi did in his early playing days. While some Argentine fans watch a lot of foreign football, the majority watch little or none, so there's a large degree to which Sampaoli is an unknown element in spite of his success just across the Andes. To that end, Sampaoli's talk of "wanting the national team to represent 40 million Argentines" could be the first step in winning supporters over. Like the players, improved performances and results could work wonders.