Barcelona to appoint Antic

Yugoslavian trainer Radomir Antic is set to be confirmed as FC Barcelona's coach for the rest of the season.

Real experience
The 54-year-old former Club Atlético de Madrid, Real Madrid CF and Real Oviedo coach revealed this morning that he was "very close" to being appointed following talks yesterday in the Spanish capital with Barcelona president Joan Gaspart. Barcelona had been linked with the former Argentinian national coach César Luis Menotti, but Antic's greater experience in the Primera División is said to have convinced Camp Nou directors of his credentials.

Previous incumbent
Antic will replace Dutchman Louis van Gaal, who parted company with the Blaugrana club on Tuesday after seven months in charge. During that time, Barcelona won ten consecutive UEFA Champions League games yet struggled to replicate that form in the league, where they lie in 12th position, three points off the relegation places.

Holy trinity
Antic will also become the first man to have coached Spain's three foremost clubs - Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético. "There are no words to describe the happiness I feel to have been given the chance of being the only coach in history to lead all three clubs," he said. "I actually turned down an offer from Barcelona after winning the double with Atlético [in 1996]. But I was called for talks on Wednesday and my only condition was that they gave me at least 18 months."

No Rexach return
Barcelona technical director Carles Rexach was allegedly close to taking the reigns for a fourth time, amid reports that he had been offered the job on a caretaker basis, while Argentinian José Pekerman was another name the Spanish press conjured with. Antic, who left Oviedo in 2001, led Atlético to a league and cup double in 1996. A former Yugoslavian international midfield player, he also coached FK Partizan and Real Zaragoza.