After the departure of coach Tito Vilanova on health grounds, FC Barcelona have sought to maintain their philosophy of attractive football by charging Gerardo Martino with the task of leading the club into a new era. A pupil of his renowned compatriot Marcelo Bielsa, Martino is famed for the eye-catching style in which he likes his teams to play, a trait he will no doubt wish to continue with the Blaugrana
Born in Rosario on 20 November 1962, the man nicknamed 'Tata' began his sporting life in the ranks of CA Newell's Old Boys – the club he now leaves for Barcelona – and made his playing debut at just 17 in the country's top division. A creative central midfielder in that Newell's side, he won four titles and made 505 appearances. It was there that he would encounter Bielsa, his coach during the 1990s.
Martino is no stranger to the Spanish Liga having briefly played for CD Tenerife in 1991, where he scored once in 15 games. His debut appearance for the islanders actually came at the Camp Nou on 2 March 1991 under coach Jorge Solari.
The new Barcelona coach's career as a player came to an end with Ecuador's Barcelona Sporting Club in 1996, whereupon he made a swift transition to the dugout. In 1998 he took the reins of Almirante Brown de Arrecifes in the second division in Argentina and later took up a post at Club Atlético Plantense before joining Instituto Atlético Central Córdoba.
He enjoyed success in Paraguay in the form of the 2002 Apertura and Clausura titles with Club Libertad in 2002 before collecting the Apertura trophy again the following season. More silverware followed at Club Cerro Porteño in 2004 where he also made notable progress in the Copa Libertadores.
A brief stint at Club Atlético Colón preceded a return to Libertad but his good work meant he was soon taking up the vacant post of Paraguay national coach at the end of 2006. He led them to the quarter-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – their run in South Africa brought to an end by eventual champions Spain, who included current Barcelona players Gerard Piqué, Carles Puyol, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fàbregas and Pedro Rodríguez in their ranks. The next year brought another strong showing as Martino's Paraguay earned a runners-up spot at the 2011 Copa América.
He arrives at Barcelona after a season in charge at Newell's in which they claimed the national Clausura title and reached the Copa Libertadores semi-finals. He may never have coached in Europe before but having his home town's favourite son, Lionel Messi, to work with should help him find his feet.
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