Barcelona have reached an agreement for Argentinian Gerardo Martino to become their new coach.
The 50-year-old, who led Newell’s Old Boys to the Argentinian Clausura title last season but recently severed ties with the club, has agreed a two-year contract at Barca where he will replace Tito Vilanova.
Barca announced on Friday night that the 44-year-old Vilanova was stepping down as he continues his battle with cancer.
``FC Barcelona have reached an agreement to appoint Gerardo Martino as the new coach of the football team for the next two seasons . This agreement is pending the drafting and signing of the contract,'' a statement on fcbarcelona.cat read.
“In the coming hours [a programme will be planned for] his arrival in Barcelona, signing the contract and the subsequent presentation.”
The news of Martino's impending appointment is sure to go down well with Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi, who has spoken in glowing terms about his compatriot in the past.
The two men both hail from Rosario and many in the media see the appointment as deliberate move from the Barcelona board to keep the four-time Ballon d’Or winner happy.
Speaking a year ago, Messi told Diario Ole: “I like Tata Martino. He is a great coach… He gets his teams playing well and we all respect him.”
A host of coaches were linked to the vacant position with the Spanish champions, including Luis Enrique, Andre Villas-Boas, Marcelo Bielsa, Michael Laudrup and Guus Hiddink, who yesterday resigned as coach of Anzhi Makhachkala.
However, Martino emerged as the favourite over the weekend and the former Argentina midfielder was today confirmed as Barca’s new boss.
Martino had been in charge of Newell’s in his native Rosario for the last two seasons, having previously also represented the club in three different spells as a player.
Prior to taking over at Newell’s, Martino spent four years as coach of Paraguay, from 2007 to 2011.