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Gerardo "Tata" Martino to coach Barcelona
Jul 22, 2013 6:02 PM EST
Barcelona have made a stunning move but not in the transfer market.
After the shock and sad departure of Tito Vilanova due to ill health, it was widely assumed that Barca would replace him with one of the bigger names of world football. Guus Hiddink was available and had previous La Liga experience with Real Madrid and Real Betis however the Catalans have stunned the football world with the hiring of the unknown former Newells Old Boy coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino.
The Argentinian most recently led Newells to the semi-final of the Copa Libertadores will bring his own staff to the Camp Nou including assistants Elvio Paolorroso and Jorge Pautasso. The contract has not yet been finalised though it is rumoured to be a three-year deal. Martino 50, had been approached by Barca rivals Malaga and Real Sociedad, which is why the La Liga champions were forced to make this quick move.
It is not known what will happen with Luis Enrique. The former Barca star and B team coach was widely considered to be a shoe-in for the position however he had verbally committed to Celta Vigo.
It does appear that Lionel Messi may have had some input into this hiring as both men come from Rosario. Whether Martino can follow in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola and Vilanova though is up for debate. The pressure he will face and the lack of European experience are going to test his managerial skills to the max.
Messi may have had his wish but there is a underlying feeling that Messi's influence in the dressing room is growing and not for the positive. Martino's first job will be to allay those fears and work on buying the right kind of players for a team that is currently crying out for defenders.