Martino set to become new Barcelona coach
By Ben Hayward
Gerardo Martino has agreed a three-year deal to replace Tito Vilanova as Barcelona coach and is set to be announced by the Catalan club on Tuesday.
Martino, nicknamed 'Tata', impressed Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta when the two spoke via video conference on Monday and the Argentine will travel to the Catalan capital in the coming hours to put pen to paper after Vilanova stepped down on Friday to continue his treatment for cancer.
Barca sources claimed late on Monday the deal was still to be ratified by the board, but an agreement has already been reached for Martino to join the Spanish side.
The 50-year-old, who will be accompanied at Camp Nou by fitness coach Elvio Paolorroso and assistant Jorge Pautasso, has beaten former Barcelona midfielder Luis Enrique to the post.
Luis Enrique joined fellow Liga side Celta Vigo only last month and his signing proved complicated so late into the summer, with the Galician outfit already well into their preparations for the new season.
Martino will be the fourth Argentine to coach Barcelona (after Helenio Herrera, Roque Olsen and Cesar Luis Menotti) and links up with fellow Rosario native Lionel Messi.
Messi has spoken highly of the former Newell's and Paraguay coach and the attacker's brother Matias congratulated Martino on Monday evening. "Welcome Tata!!" he wrote on Twitter. "Let's hope we can continue on the right path!! Thanks Tito!! God bless you!!"
Paris Saint-Germain forward Ezequiel 'Pocho' Lavezzi also showed support for his compatriot on the social network site. "How cool that Barcelona have chosen an Argentine to be their coach," he wrote. "Total success, Tata!"
Martino is set to be announced by Barca on Tuesday and is likely to be unveiled by the Catalan club later this week. In the meantime, Jordi Roura will take charge of Wednesday's friendly against Bayern Munich.