Tito Vilanova Will Step Down as Manager of Barcelona

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistJuly 19, 2013

Effective immediately, Tito Vilanova will step down as Barcelona manager. The club confirmed the news in a press conference on Friday: 

As tweeted by CNN sports correspondent Tancredi Palmeri, the 44-year-old boss is ready to call time on his Camp Nou career after suffering a second relapse in his battle against cancer:

Palmeri also reported some of the details behind Vilanova's reported resignation. 

The club announced that they would be introducing the new manager next week and were cancelling their next friendly match in Poland.

Despite spending much of the 2012-13 La Liga season in rehabilitation, Vilanova led the Catalan giants to the domestic title during his only season in charge. The former coach replaced Pep Guardiola as manager and struggled through a campaign that saw many question his decision to leave a seemingly uninjured Lionel Messi out of the Champions League semifinal second-leg defeat to Bayern Munich.

Tensions between Vilanova and Guardiola have threatened to overshadow an extremely positive preseason for Barcelona. Despite the recent signing of Brazilian wunderkind Neymar, Vilanova has been forced to deal with claims that the Barcelona board used his personal illness to soil Guardiola's legend in Spain, as reported by The Guardian.

Vilanova's long association with Barcelona began in 1984 and has seen him rise through the ranks both as player and coach. With his exit confirmed, the domestic champions now join many of Europe's elite clubs in an era of managerial change.

With Jose Mourinho leaving Real Madrid for Chelsea, the battle between La Liga's behemoths is changing at a rapid pace. Carlo Ancelotti has already exerted his influence at the Bernabeu with the signings of Isco, Daniel Carvajal, Asier Illaramendi and Carlos Casemiro.

Barcelona's new manager will have little time to get his squad in order before the new season. The club's 2013-14 La Liga campaign kicks off against Levante on August 18, ensuring the board must secure an incoming coach as a matter of urgency.

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