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Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol chat up Gerard Martino as next Barcelona manager

Jul 22, 2013, 10:22 AM EDT

Lionel Messi AP

It’s looking more and more like Gerard Martino will be the next manager of Barcelona Football Club.

Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol have spoken favorably about Martino as the Argentine manager has emerged as the favorite to succeed Tito Vilanova at the Camp Nou.

Messi told Diario Ole: “I like Tata 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.”

The World Player of the Year and Martino share a few notable connections, the biggest being that the pair are both from the city of Rosario. In addition, Messi began his career in the youth ranks at Newell’s Old Boys, the Argentinian side where Martino starred as a player and managed to the Argentinian Clausura title this past season.

Martino, who is out of contract at Newell’s, is currently holding talks with Barcelona’s sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, in Buenos Aires. Puyol discussed Martino in a post-training news conference on Monday noting that the 50 year old’s philosophies chime well with Barcelona’s playing style.

Puyol said in a post-training news conference that he was sure sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and the club’s board would hire a coach able to adapt to Barca’s possession-based ethic.

“We know about his career, he is a very good coach,” the Blaugrana captain said. “He likes Barcelona’s playing style.” Puyol went on to add that when Spain met Martino’s Paraguay in the 2010 World Cup, which La Furia Roja won 1-0, he recalled in being “a very difficult, very hard game.”

Besides Martino, the candidates favored to succeed Vilanova include Luis Enrique, Frank de Boer, Rubi, Michael Laudrup, Jurgen Klopp, Marcelo Bielsa and Roberto Mancini. Jupp Heynckes and Feyenoord’s Ronald Koeman have both ruled themselves out of the position.

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