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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Martino: Messi key to appointment

New Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino believes that Lionel Messi was influential in the club’s decision to appoint him as their new coach.

Kelly: Martino will continue Barca traditions

- Grateful Vilanova bids farewell

Martino, 50, was appointed on a two-year contract by the Spanish champions following Tito Vilanova’s decision to step down in order to continue cancer treatment.

Martino and Messi are from the same region of Argentina, Rosario, and speaking at a press conference on Tuesday evening the former Paraguay coach talked of his gratitude to the the four-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"I don't know the details of the situation, [but] I have no doubts that Messi spoke with the club directors. I'm sure that Jorge [Messi's father] and Leo have had some weight in this decision," Martino said.

"They've given their opinion and we've arrived at this end. How much weight their opinions held in the decision I don't know but I'm grateful.

"To coach Barca is an extremely important opportunity. I'm very grateful that Barcelona have gone for me and my coaching team."

Martino quickly emerged as a leading contender for the job along with several other top names, but he says he didn’t expect the approach and it caught him off guard as he prepared to take a break from football.

"Of course it took me by surprise," he said. "I had virtually prepared myself to take a break and wait for the right job opportunity to arise."

However, it hasn’t taken him long to focus on the task ahead and he is now readying himself for the challenge of managing one of the biggest clubs in world football.

"It's a big challenge to join a club of this magnitude and to try and do a good job," he said. "As with every big club, I want our team to be serious candidates to win every competition.

"We understand the institution that were going to, its history, how they have a defined style, and we are the ones who must insert ourselves into that and see how we can make our contribution to a squad that is very good and which has done great things in recent years.

"I don't know when I'll take charge of my first match, first I must adapt and finish with the contractual matters."

Martino denied suggestions that there will be an option in his contract which would free him to take over national team duties with Argentina if the opportunity arose, saying: "I don't put clauses in my contracts."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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