Gerardo Martino has signed a contract to be the next manager of Barcelona with an announcement to his appointment imminent, according to reports in Spain.
News broke earlier today of Guus Hiddink’s resignation as manager of Anzhi Makhachkala, which immediately triggered speculation that he would take over at the Nou Camp following Tito Vilanova’s resignation due to his on-going battle with throat cancer.
But three of the four sports newspapers in Spain are suggesting that Martino has already signed a deal to become the newest manager of the La Liga champions.
The speculation was released on Twitter by Italian sports reporter Tancredi Palmeri, a CNN Italian correspondent and Gazzetta dello Sport contributor.
His tweet read: “BREAKING NEWS: Gerardo Martino is the new Barcelona manager and has already signed, according to 3 of the 4 spanish sport papers.”
The news has instantly had an impact on betting markets, with bookies Paddy Power suspending the market on the next permanent Barcelona manager, while Sky Bet installed Martino at 1/20 to become the next manager before they too withdrew the market.
The appointment, should it be confirmed, is expected to be taken well by the Barcelona squad, who spoke earlier today of their preference for Martino to get the job.
Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta is reportedly in Buenos Aires today for talks with Martino, who led Newell's Old Boys to the Argentinian Clausura title last season but recently severed ties with the club.
Lionel Messi, speaking to Diario Ole, said: “I like Tata (Gerardo) 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."
Barca president Sandro Rosell said on Friday night that the club expect to make an announcement on Vilanova's replacement in the coming days.