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São Paulo (AFP)

Argentina’s Hernan Crespo will be Sao Paulo’s new coach, the Brazilian club announced on Friday.

The 45-year-old’s appointment comes just three weeks after leading modest Argentina side Defensa y Justicia to the Copa Sudamericana title.

The former striker, Premier League winner with Chelsea and three-time Serie A champions with Inter Milan, has signed a two-year contract.

“He has a history of victories, he was a great athlete and a very promising coach,” said Sao Paulo president Julio Casares.

“We have a commander with a winning mentality,” he added.

Crespo replaces Brazilian Fernando Diniz, who was sacked after a series of poor results that brought Sao Paulo down to the top of the Brazilian league.

They haven’t won in seven league games, losing four, including a 5-1 home loss to leaders Internacional.

Sao Paulo are fourth, seven points behind with four games to go, but must retain that position to automatically qualify for the Copa Libertadores group stage.

They have a tough race, including matches against Flamengo, who are fighting for the title, and two teams – Gremio and Palmeiras – trying to oust them from the top four.

Crespo made a name for himself as a River Plate striker in his homeland, where he won the Copa Libertadores in 1996 and two Argentine titles.

He moved to Parma in Italy where he played in the club’s glory days under Carlo Ancelotti and alongside Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro and Lilian Thuram.

After moving to Lazio, Crespo was one of the first players Chelsea signed when the London club was bought out in 2003 by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who immediately embarked on a 100million spending spree. pound sterling.

Launched on loan at AC Milan a year later after Jose Mourinho took over from Claudio Ranieri, Crespo scored twice in the 2005 Champions League final before Liverpool came back from a 3-0 deficit at half-time to win on penalties.

Crespo returned to Chelsea the following season and won the Premier League title before winning three Serie A crowns in a row after starting a second stint with Inter, initially on loan.

He has scored 35 goals in 64 games for Argentina – one more than Diego Maradona – and is fourth on his country’s top scorers list behind Lionel Messi, Gabriel Batistuta and Sergio Aguero.

He started his coaching career in Modena, Italy before returning home to take over Banfield in January 2019 and then Defensa a year later.

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