Martino to replace Vilanova
Gerardo Martino (Getty Images)
Madrid - Spanish champions Barcelona Monday chose Argentine Gerardo Martino as their new coach, to replace throat-cancer victim Tito Vilanova.
Martino, 50, has agreed to a three-year contract with Barca.
The official announcement will be made later.
The agreement was made by video conference.
His assistants will be fellow Argentines Elvio Paolorroso and Jorge Pautasso, who worked with him recently at Newell's Old Boys.
Martino has never coached in Europe before but has been in charge of many sides in Argentina as well as the Paraguayan national team. In addition, he is a close friend of Barca idol Lionel Messi and his father Jorge.
They come from the same Argentine city of Rosario.
Martino was voted Newell's best player ever in a recent poll by the club's fans.
He is due to arrive in Spain Wednesday but will not make his debut on the Barca bench in Wednesday's high-profile friendly at European champions Bayern Munich.
Assistant coach Rubi will be in charge of Barca in Munich. Martino will start work Thursday, after being presented to the fans and media.
Barca have been looking for a new coach since Friday, when the 44 year-old Vilanova stepped down because of the intensive treatment he will need in his battle against Parotid gland cancer.
Vilanova, who was only in the job for a year - after four years as assistant to Pep Guardiola - will continue at the club in an unspecified position.
The first options as replacements were Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde, but these were unavailable due to having recently signed for Celta Vigo and Athletic Bilbao respectively.
Other coaches considered by Barca were Marcelo Bielsa, Jupp Heynckes, Michael Laudrup and Oscar Garcia.
An online poll taken Monday by Mundo Deportivo showed only half of readers in favour of the appointment of Martino, whilst a similar poll taken by rival paper Sport showed only 41 per cent in favour.
For gorgeous gifts at gorgeous prices, click here for the ultimate Christmas gift guide from Clicks.