Barcelona’s players remain sad and in shock after Tito Vilanova’s sudden departure on health grounds.
It was a blow to the club when Pep Guardiola abruptly ended his successful reign there, and after Vilanova won La Liga in his first season at the helm, it appeared the transition had been as seamless as could be hoped for.
And so the loss of amiable Vilanova has hurt the Blaugrana, who must now quickly pick his successor.
It does not seem likely that a new manager will be promoted from within this time around, and rumoured candidates like Andre Villas-Boas and Jupp Heynckes have already been ruled out of the equation.
Celta Vigo manager Luis Enrique, who cut his teeth as boss of Barca B, is reportedly in the running. But he has only been manager at his new club for a matter of weeks.
The other favourite for the job is former Paraguay manager Gerardo Martino, who most recently managed Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys, and who he led to a domestic title.
Lionel Messi, who is thought to carry a lot of weight behind the scenes at Barca, has given a glowing review of his compatriot Martino.
"I like Tata Martino,” Pulga Atomica told Diario Ole.
“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."
Meanwhile, Barca skipper Carles Puyol, who is back in action after an injury ravaged last season, has spoken highly of both Martino and Enrique.
Puyol played for Spain against Martino’s Paraguay at the 2010 World Cup, in a match he described “a very difficult, very hard game.”
"We know about his [Martino’s] career, he is a very good coach," Puyol added.
"He likes Barcelona's playing style."
Regarding Enrique, who turned out for both Real Madrid and Barca during his playing days, Puyol said:
"Everyone knows that I have a very good relationship with Luis.
"I think he has what it takes but that's the same for the other candidates who have been mentioned.
"I don't know who will come ... we are ready to help whoever comes in any way we can."
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