Barcelona could be set to appoint former Paraguay manager Gerardo Martino, following Tito Vilanova’s decision to step down as head coach at the Nou Camp.
Martino has never managed in Europe, but he has emerged as the likely choice to replace Vilanova at a price of 9/4.
According to reports in Spain, Barcelona have been in contact with the Argentinian with a view to him taking charge of the first team.
Vilanova stepped down for health reasons – as he continues his battle against cancer – but the Catalan club could be ready to announce his successor next week.
A representative from the La Liga champions is due to meet with Martino and discuss the possibility of him taking charge at Barcelona.
The 50-year-old severed ties with Newell’s Old Boys earlier this summer, but he is better known for a successful five-year spell as Paraguay boss from 2006 to 2011.
In that time the former attacking midfielder reached the World Cup quarter-finals and the Copa America final, and in recent months he has been linked with the jobs at Malaga and Real Sociedad.
Former Barca star Luis Enrique remains the 10/11 favourite, but having only taken over at Celta Vigo last month he may be priced too short for another move.
Rubi is a 7/1 shot worth considering as he is already on the staff at the club, while Marco Bielsa is out of work after leaving Athletico Bilbao and is available at 10/1.
Tottenham’s Andre Villas-Boas and Swansea’s Michael Laudrup are both 12/1 bets, but for the time being it looks like being Martino’s job to turn down.
Vilanova told fans that he was not able to pay full attention to the requirements of the Barcelona hot-seat, as the reason for his resignation.
Lionel Messi, Andres Ineista and Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara have all publicly sent their wishes to their former manager, who replaced Pep Guardiola last summer.
“With the treatments I must follow from now on, I cannot devote 100% to the tasks of head coach,” Vilanova said.
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and director of football Andoni Zubizarreta announced the news at a brief media conference attended by the first-team squad.
“Tito Vilanova will continue treatment of his illness, he will not be able to continue as Barcelona’s head manager,” said Rosell.
“This is a very difficult blow to the club, but we have overcome many difficult setbacks.”