Tito Vilanova is stepping down as coach of Barcelona to continue his treatment for cancer, club president Sandro Rosell has confirmed.
Vilanova, who replaced Pep Guardiola as coach of Barca last summer, had a tumour removed from his throat in late 2011, but suffered a relapse a year later.
He underwent another operation on his parotid gland in December before beginning a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in New York.
Barcelona said in a statement on their website: “Tito Vilanova will not continue on the Barca bench.
“President Sandro Rosell announced this Friday that the Catalan coach will not start the season.”
In a brief press conference held with members of Barcelona’s first team in attendance, Rosell said: “The news I have is something that you never want to give.
“After evaluating Tito’s routine tests, the treatment to follow will be incompatible with being the first-team coach.
“I want to ask for respect for the privacy of this process.
“It’s a tough blow but Barca have suffered many blows and we’ve got through them,” added Rosell, who said the club expect to make an announcement on Vilanova’s replacement in the coming days.
Reports in Spain have suggested Joan Francesc Ferrer, known as Rubi, could take over from Vilanova in a caretaker capacity.
The 43-year-old joined Barca’s coaching staff last month as an assistant to Vilanova and Jordi Roura — who took charge of the first team when Vilanova was absent last season.
Rubi was head coach of Girona last term and led the club to the Segunda Division play-offs, where they lost to Almeria to miss out on a place in the top flight for the first time in their history.
Vilanova, 44, was Guardiola’s assistant before being promoted to the top job when the record-breaking coach decided to take a one-year sabbatical from the game last year after winning 14 trophies in four seasons.
In his one campaign in charge of the club, Vilanova led Barca to their fourth Primera Division title in five years, becoming only the second team after Real Madrid to reach the 100-point barrier.
They also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and Copa del Rey, but lost to Bayern Munich and Madrid respectively.
Where last night’s developments leave Manchester United’s pursuit of Cesc Fabregas is anyone’s guess after another day of mixed information.
Speaking before last night’s bombshell, United manager David Moyes said he is hoping to hear some positive news about his pursuit of the Spaniard in the next couple of days.
Speaking at a press conference to preview today’s encounter with the A-League All Stars at ANZ Stadium, Moyes for the first time endorsed the fact United had made a bid for Fabregas.
“I couldn’t tell you exactly,” said Moyes, when asked for a progress update. “I am in contact with the chief executive who has been dealing with it.
“I will hopefully know a little bit more in the next day or so.”
However, Barcelona vice-president Josep-Maria Bartomeu said the Spanish champions would not entertain offers for the player and that he was “non-transferable”.
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