After nearly one year, Marcelo Gallardo will return to the coaching chair, but not where he wanted, or many pundits thought he’d end up. According to various sources and reports, the Argentine manager will become the head coach of Saudi Pro League giant Al-Ittihad.

Gallardo, who had turned down offers to coach in MLS, Brazil, some European teams, and Mexico had his eye in Europe, and a long-term project, but after failing to land a European club, the former River Plate legend jumped on the chance to coach Al-Ittihad, who has the Club World Cup in December and could give Gallardo more exposure.

According to TyC Sports, Gallardo will sign a year and a half deal with Al-Ittihad, who are fifth in the Saudi Pro League, and has Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kanté, Fabinho, Luiz Felipe, and Abderrazak Hamdallah on the roster.

Why did Marcelo Gallardo not land in Europe?

After nine successful seasons coaching River Plate, Gallardo won 14 titles and compiled a 251-85-111 record. Gallardo won two Copa Libertadores, one of which was by defeating Boca Juniors, and was runner up at the Club World Cup in 2015. Gallardo also won a title with Nacional of Uruguay, his first coaching experience.

Despite all his fame and accomplishments, Gallardo was seen as a “gamble” to many teams in Europe. Today many sporting directors are not willing to take a chance on a “unknown” commodity like Gallardo. Despite being linked to PSG, Monaco, Leeds, Valencia, Sevilla, and Everton, Gallardo turned down many job opportunities and never got past the finish line in others.

Marcelo Gallardo’s career

As a player, Gallardo played for River Plate, Monaco, PSG, DC United, and Nacional of Uruguay. He won titles at all of the clubs he played for. At the national team level, Gallardo played in two World Cups for Argentina in 1998 and 2002.

As a manager along with his championships he was South American manager of the year on three occasions, Copa Libertadores manager of the season twice, and is considered one of the best Argentine managers at the moment.