• La Liga

Martino favourite for Barca job

ESPN staff
July 20, 2013
Tito Vilanova stepped down on Friday night © PA Photos

Former Paraguay manager Gerardo Martino has emerged as the favourite for the Barcelona job after Tito Vilanova was forced to step down as his health problems resurfaced.

Vilanova, 44, suffered a relapse in his throat cancer treatment and Sandro Rosell, addressing the media on Friday, said his condition was "not compatible with coaching".

Initial reports had suggested Vilanova's assistant, Rubi, was the forerunner for the position, having led Segunda Division side Girona to last season's play-off final. However, El Mundo Deportivo, Marca and AS all believe Martino, nicknamed "Tata", is the most likely candidate.

Rosell said at Friday's media briefing that a new coach would be presented "probably at the beginning of next week".

Martino, who led Argentinian side Newell's Old Boys to the title last season, is out of contract and, according to Ole, a Barca delegation is expected to fly out to South America for negotiations with the 50-year-old.

The Argentine has won four league titles in Paraguayan football as well as last season's championship in his home country. He was also voted South American Coach of the Year in 2007 while in charge of Paraguay.

Catalan newspaper Sport, meanwhile, offers an array of potential replacements for Vilanova, including Rubi and Jordi Roura, former Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes, and Marcelo Bielsa, who left Athletic Bilbao in the summer. Bielsa came out top in a fan poll on Marca.

Sport also suggests Frank Rijkaard, who led Barcelona to the Champions League title in 2006, and former Barcelona B coach Luis Enrique, now with Celta Vigo, as candidates.

Tottenham Hotspur head coach Andre Villas-Boas and Swansea City boss Michael Laudrup - a former Barca player - are also mentioned, but the pair were both reluctant to be drawn on the link on Friday as they sought to put the focus on Vilanova's health.

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