MADRID, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Argentinean Gerardo 'Tata' Martino will be confirmed as the new coach of FC Barcelona in the next few hours according to the Spanish press.
Although the club had yet to make the news official, on Monday evening Spain's four different sports papers, El Mundo Deportivo, Marca, Diario Sport and Diario AS are all 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 last Friday he will step down from the position to continue his fight against cancer of the saliva gland.
Martino will be accompanied by his habitual assistants Elvio Paolorroso and Jorge Pautasso and is expected to arrive in Spain on 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 on August 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 next season.
Earlier in the day, club captain Carles Puyol had spoken about the possible candidates for the Barca dugout, saying that it was not for the players to decide.
"That is down to the sporting direction and the technical staff. They will do what is best for the team. We have a style of play and our philosophy and I am sure that whatever the choice is it will be a good one," he said, adding that it would not be a problem if Vilanova's replacement came from outside, given that all of the candidates understood the Barca philosophy.
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, Leo 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.