Barcelona are set to appoint Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino on a three-year contract, according to various reports in the Spanish media.
Martino will replace Tito Vilanova who stepped down on Friday as he continues to receive treatment for throat cancer.
Former Newell’s Old Boys coach Martino, 50, quickly emerged as a leading candidate for the post, alongside ex-Barcelona B manager Luis Enrique, who recently took up a position at Celta Vigo.
Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta was believed to have travelled to Buenos Aires in order to hold talks with Martino, and now multiple outlets claim a deal has been agreed with AS reporting a three-year contract will be signed imminently.
The sports daily also claims that Tata Martino will bring over his assistant from his spell at Newell’s Old Boys, Jorge Pautasso, as well as fitness coach Jorge Paulo Rosso, and Adrián Coria a coach who trained Leo Messi when he was at Newell’s as a youngster.
El Mundo Deportivo reports that an agreement was reached this morning, with a number of telephone calls and video-conferences taking place between Rosario and Barcelona. According to the paper, the Argentine is waiting for definitive confirmation from the club before he boards a plane to the Catalan capital, but ‘El Tata’ is expected in Barcelona on Wednesday.
However Barca’s new manager will not arrive in time to make his debut in the dugout against the Catalans’ former coach Pep Guardiola and his Bayern Munich side in Wednesday night’s friendly.
Martino, like Leo Messi, is from Rosario, and was voted Newell’s all-time best player in a fans’ poll. The 50-year-old, who also spent time at Tenerife during his playing career, has coached a number of club sides and the Paraguay national team, but currently finds himself without a job. He was voted South American coach of the year in 2007.
Marca suggests that Martino’s appointment would be popular with both his compatriot Leo Messi, who began his youth career at Newell’s before heading to Barcelona aged 13, and Messi’s Father Jorge who counts ‘El Tata’ as one of his football idols.
After Newell’s Old Boys won the Clausura title under Martino last season, Messi said of his countryman: "I like Tata Martino. He is a great coach, as he showed in the Clausura with what he did for the team, the way it ended and how they won it. He gets his teams playing well and all the players respect him."
And it would seem that the Argentine coach would fit in well at the Camp Nou, with Sport calling him a ‘Bielsista’. Former Athletic Bilbao manager Marcelo Bielsa had huge influence on Pep Guardiola, and Bielsa's footballing philosophy of possession and pressing are the cornerstones of ‘the Barca way’.