Boca Juniors confirmed the departure of head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto on Friday, five days after losing to domestic rivals River Plate in the Copa Libertadores final.
Schelotto steered the club impressively through the Copa Libertadores all the way to the final where they were halted by fellow Argentinian club River over two legs, the second leg taking place in Madrid after fan violence in Buenos Aires. The domestic season, however, has been a relative struggle for the club, as they sit sixth in the 26-team table, 12 points back of leaders leaders Racing Club. The club won the title last season under Schelotto as well as the year before, so expectations are high.
Schelotto joined Boca Juniors in 2016, a club he made 300 appearances for as a player across a decade of service time. The 45-year-old has just one other managerial stint on his resume, a three-year spell at fellow Argentinian club Lanus before joining Boca.
“The best thing for Boca is to start the year making a change – search for a new coaching staff and start all over from scratch,” said Boca Juniors president Daniel Angelici in a news conference. Schelotto was sitting beside Angelici at the presser, and said, “Despite not winning the Copa Libertadores, I leave at peace knowing that I left it all on the field. This is the best decision that we could have taken.”
Schelotto’s contract expires on December 31, and Boca does not play another match until restarting its league campaign against Newell’s Old Boys on January 26, giving the club ample opportunity to find a new manager and allow him time to begin with the squad.
Angelici said that Schelotto “has left the bar very high,” a nod to his popularity among fans, given his success with the club as both a player and a manager. Along with winning two league titles as manager, Schelotto won three Copa Libertadores titles as a player before moving to Major League Soccer in 2007, joining the Columbus Crew.
While Angelici said no talks are currently under way with a successor, names such as Gabriel Heinze, Luiz Felipe Scolari and Gustavo Alfaro have all been rumored in the media.