Martino appointed new Barcelona coach

Story highlights

  • Gerardo Martino appointed as new manager of Barcelona
  • Martino has signed a two-year deal at Camp Nou
  • Has previously managed Newell's Old Boys and Paraguay national team
  • Replaces Tito Vilanova who left his role to continue his fight against cancer

Gerardo "Tata" Martino's the name -- and putting Barcelona back at the top of Europe's elite is the game.

Martino, 50, signed a two-year deal with the Spanish champions Tuesday after agreeing a move to Camp Nou to replace the recently departed Tito Vilanova.

The Argentine, who hails from Rosario, the same city as Barca star Lionel Messi, led Newell's Old Boys to the Clausura last season as well as to the semifinal stage of the Copa Libertadores.

Messi has been outspoken in his praise of Martino in the past and is likely to welcome the arrival of his fellow countryman.

Speaking to Olé last year, Messi said: "I like Martino, he's an amazing coach and you could see in the Clausura what he did for the team, the manner in which he finished and how he achieved it.

"He found the team, he made it play well and everyone respects him."

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Martino has spent much of his career coaching in Paraguay where he won four domestic titles during his time with Libertda and Cerro Porteno.

He led the Paraguay national team to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa where it was beaten by eventual champion Spain, while it also qualified for the final of the Copa America 12 months later.

Martino has won praise from fellow Argentine Messi in the past and is a disciple of former Atletico Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa.

Read: Vilanova steps down as Barcelona coach

Martino replaces Vilanova, who stood down as coach earlier in July after revealing he required further treatment in his fight against cancer.

Vilanova, 44, led Barcelona to the La Liga title last season after taking over from Pep Guardiola in June 2012 despite originally being diagnosed with throat cancer in November 2011.

The Spaniard missed nearly three months of last season while undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy in New York before returning in March to help the club claim the title.

But defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals put an end to the dream of a prestigious double.

Vilanova had hoped to preside over another season but his ill health meant that he was unable to continue.

"It was a very hard blow," Barcelona captain Carles Puyol told a press conference when asked about Vilanova's departure.

"Nobody expected it. The team has been left very affected. The news we have received is very difficult, but this is an illness and the person is the most important.

"Tito is very much in the thoughts of those in the dressing room. He spoke to us and calmed us. He asked us to continue to fight as he would do."

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