Gerardo 'Tato' Martino to be new Barcelona coach

Last Updated: Tue, Jul 23, 2013 09:51 hrs

Madrid: Argentine Gerardo 'Tata' Martino is on the brink of being confirmed as the new coach of FC Barcelona, according to the Spanish press.

The club, however, has yet to make the news official, reports Xinhua.

Spain's four different sports papers, El Mundo Deportivo, Marca, Diario Sport and Diario AS were Monday evening unanimous in their assertions that the current BBVA Primera Liga Champions have reached agreement with the former Newell's Old Boys and Paraguay coach to sign a three-year contract to become the replacement of Tito Vilanova.

Vilanova announced Friday he will step down from the position to continue his fight against cancer of the salivary gland.

Martino will be accompanied by his habitual assistants Elvio Paolorroso and Jorge Pautasso and is expected to arrive in Spain Wednesday when he will sign his contract and be officially presented to the press and fans.

Barcelona have moved quickly to replace Vilanova with the new season due to begin Aug 17 and have opted to look outside of the club, rather than move for former B-team coach and player Luis Enrique, who only recently agreed to coach Celta Vigo.

The 50-year-old Martino enjoyed a successful career as a player, making a record 505 appearances for Newell's before turning to coaching, where his career took him to Paraguay and the conquest of four league titles in that country before being named as Paraguay national coach for a successful five-year-spell.

He then returned to Newell's as a player taking the historic club to the title of the Torneo Clausura, before abandoning the outfit.

His appointment will meet with the wholehearted support of Barca's star player, Lionel Messi, who himself began his career with Newell's.

"I like 'Tata' Martino. He is a great coach and he showed that in the Clausura with what he did for the team, the way it ended and how he did it. He gets his teams playing well and we all respect him," commented Messi before Martino's appointment.

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