Soccer-Alkmaar fire coach Slot after he is linked to another job

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FILE PHOTO: Europa League - Group L - Manchester United v AZ Alkmaar

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - AZ Alkmaar fired coach Arne Slot on Saturday after he was linked to the Feyenoord job for next season, despite being unbeaten in the Dutch league and having a strong chance of reaching the Europa League last 32.

His dismissal comes a day after Dutch media reported he was the hot favourite to take over from Dick Advocaat at Feyenoord for the next campaign.

"As a club we have elected for an immediate departure. At AZ we want a head coach who is fully focused on AZ," said their technical director Max Huiberts in a club statement.

Feyenoord coach Advocaat, 73, this week said it would be his last term in charge after which the Dutch press reported Slot was the Rotterdam club's choice to take over for the 2021-22 campaign.

AZ said they had approached Slot after reading the reports and then made their decision.

The 42-year-old Slot took AZ level on points at the top of the Eredivisie table last season when the COVID-19 crisis saw the league suspended and then the rest of the season called off.

However, leaders Ajax Amsterdam were given the Dutch direct entry into the Champions League group stage while AZ, who had an worse goal difference but had beaten Ajax a fortnight before the season was halted, had to play in the preliminary rounds.

AZ lost a one-off qualifier at Dynamo Kyiv in September in their bid to reach the Champions League group phase but in the Europa League have beaten Napoli away and could next Thursday finish in the top two in their group and advance to the last 32.

In the Dutch league, seventh-placed AZ are unbeaten after nine games but trail leaders Ajax by 10 points with a game in hand.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ken Ferris)