Barcelona have admitted that Gerardo Martino has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave this summer but insist he will remain in charge next season.
Martino, 51, took over at Barca at short notice last summer, after former boss Tito Vilanova stepped down due to illness. He signed a two-year deal that ties him to the club until 2015, but his position has been questioned after some recent poor results and a feeling he has failed to fully grasp the philosophy at the Catalan club.
TV show Esport 3 added to the speculation on Monday when claiming Martino had already told his assistant coaches that he was moving on at the end of the current campaign.
Barca’s new vice-president of marketing and media, Manel Arroyo, confirmed to AS that the release clause did exist but said there were no plans to make a change.
“I cannot give details but these are normal practices,” Arroyo said. “The clause is there, for both him and for us, but I insist there is no intention to use it.”
The former Newell’s Old Boys and Paraguay coach has been linked with a number of different jobs for next season in recent days, with AS claiming he could take over as Argentina manager after the 2014 World Cup, and BeIN Sport saying unnamed clubs in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have offered him a job.
Arroyo suggested it was possible that the increased speculation was aimed at unsettling Barca in the lead-up to Sunday’s clasico against La Liga leaders Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
“Tata has a contract with the club,” he said. “This very important week for us is dedicated to Barca. We have asked Martino and he has denied it completely. He has not spoken, nor has anyone on his staff -- it is completely false.
“He has not set down if he is going to continue, but it is taken as a given that we are all planning for the future together -- even more in this week, which is so important with the challenge at the Bernabeu.”
Martino himself has refused to comment on the speculation, regularly maintaining that he is for the moment focused solely on his side’s Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League campaigns.
Asked after Sunday’s 7-0 La Liga win over Osasuna at the Camp Nou, Martino dismissed reports that he had not been invited to a club meeting to plan for next season.
“I have nothing to say about that publicly,” he said. “I talk with [Barca sporting director Andoni] Zubizarreta every day. It is true that I did not speak yesterday about planning because [the meeting] was about renewing contracts, and there is a need to look for a goalkeeper, a centre-half. But there is nothing new to say, nothing to clear up.”