MADRID: Argentina’s one-time World Cup midfielder Diego Simeone is favourite to take over as new boss of Atletico de Madrid later this week after quitting Racing of Avellaneda.

Simeone steered Racing to second place in the recently-completed Apertura championship and new president Gaston Cognorno had announced he would be staying with the 1967 world and South Amrican club champions.

Atletico are stuck in midtable in the Spanish league after a 2-0 defeat by Betis at the weekend appeared to mark the virtual end of the reign of  of Gregorio Manzano.

Simeone was a member of the Atletico team who won the Spanish league in 1996. He was infamously involved in the incident at the 1998 World Cup in Saint-Etienne, France, which saw the expulsion of David Beckham.

** Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella has said he will appoint Barcelona’s Leo Messi as his captain. Sabella added: “He is the b est player and has enormous talent. He is creator and goalscorer and so it’s only right that he should be the team’s ‘locomotive.'”