Ranking 5 Potential Successors to Tata Martino at Barcelona
While Tata Martino is just beginning his Barcelona journey, let's take a look at some potential long-term replacements for the Argentinian.
Pep Guardiola wasn't around for decades, but even his relatively brief stint with the club left a sizable impression on the environment fostered at Camp Nou. His exit was sudden, and the gap he left at the helm has not fully been filled.
Barcelona are talented enough on their own, but with the right manager, they could regain world dominance. The following is a list of potential successors to Martino, whenever that may be.
The managers are ranked by a mixture of criteria including: past success, style and whether or not they are a realistic option to manage Barcelona.
Honorable Mention: Jose Mourinho
The Chosen One.
Jose Mourinho's list of accolades is long, though the manager has lost some luster in recent years. His European success with both FC Porto and Internazionale led many to believe he could repeat such feats with Real Madrid, but things didn't fall into place.
By pushing the Madrid club back to a La Liga title he certainly demonstrated his value, but he will be looking for a fresh start with Chelsea.
As far as past accomplishments go, Mourinho ranks among the best. However, his style and likelihood to be the next Barca manager make him an honorable mention candidate rather than a legitimate contender.
Honorable Mention: Guus Hiddink
Guus Hiddink has been an incredible manager to follow. Despite rarely managing a top side in Europe, he has accomplished a great deal with second-tier squads.
While his club success is apparent, Hiddink has been rather fond of the international scene for quite some time.
The Dutchman famously managed South Korea in their fairytale trip to the World Cup semifinals in 2002. That was before guiding Australia to a second round appearance at the 2006 world cup, which was followed by the man leading Russia to a semifinal showing at Euro 2008—defeating his home country 3-1 in the process.
Hiddink's teams play a pleasant attacking style which has yielded strong results at major tournaments. However, his acclimation toward the international scene and his lack of big club experience make him an outsider in our top five list.
Honorable Mention: Eusebio Sacristan
Eusebio Sacristan might not be a household name as a manager just yet—or ever. But, the former Barcelona midfielder is the current boss of Barca's B squad.
The diminutive Spaniard played over 200 games for the Catalan club before transitioning into the coaching side of the game. He got his feet wet at the right time, sliding into an assistant position under Frank Rijkaard from 2003-2008.
Sacristan was a contributor to Barcelona's impressive spell during that era, a time that featured Ronaldinho and the origins of Lionel Messi.
Since that time, however, his CV has been less than stellar. A mediocre stint with Celta Vigo saw him move back to the safe haven of his Barcelona environment where he has had some unimpressive years with the B squad.
Though Barcelona's reserve side is not intended to win titles—they focus far more on individual development and team dynamic—it must be said that the club have finished 8th and 9th under his leadership.
While the history and style are present, Sacristan's resume needs some padding before he is truly considered a candidate for the job.
5. Diego Simeone
The former defensive midfielder had spells in South America and Spain but has done wonders with Atletico Madrid in recent years. Diego Simeone's squad is not only contending against La Liga's traditional duopoly, but they are actually keeping pace with Barcelona.
While many question whether his side have the depth to compete in the long-term, Simeone isn't waiting around to find out. The Argentinian is looking to bolster the squad in January, according to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN.
Simeone might not be able to overtake the big two this season, but with a less talented squad, he has enjoyed remarkable success.
Atletico's recent surge indicates the talent Simeone has for getting the most out of his team. The manager has overseen a smooth transition after the loss of Radamel Falcao—barely missing a beat now that Diego Costa has found his scoring boots.
Despite a brief coaching career, Simeone remains an attractive prospect. He is Argentinian, he knows La Liga and he has done well to get the most out of a young squad. His name should certainly be in the conversation.
4. Jurgen Klopp
Borussia Dortmund's incredible run to the Champions League final last season was no fluke. It was the culmination of years of progress led by Jurgen Klopp.
The German manager has been instrumental in transforming his side from domestic mediocrity into a European powerhouse. His team is littered with talent, but they play a stylistic team-oriented brand of football that is a joy to watch.
The two-time German Football Manager of the Year has had no trouble cultivating young talent—just keeping it. First Shinji Kagawa left for Manchester United followed by Mario Gotze for Bayern Munich.
More recently, star striker Robert Lewandowski has announced that he would follow Gotze to Bavaria after this season, according to BBC.
With the world's greatest players at his disposal, one can only imagine the success he would have with Barcelona. Throw in his squad's demolition of Real Madrid in the semifinals of the Champions League a year ago and he might already be a fan favorite.
Klopp is intriguing, and his brief but successful run certainly makes him a candidate. But, his deep German roots (he spent his entire career with Mainz before beginning his coaching career with the club) indicate that he is likely to remain in Deutschland for a while.
3. Vicente Del Bosque
Sometimes it feels like Vicente Del Bosque is coaching Barcelona already.
As manager for the Spanish national side, Del Bosque has translated domestic club success into international glory. The man has won both the World Cup and the European Championship, dominating international football for the last few years.
While Del Bosque has certainly left his mark on the international stage, the man has been equally triumphant in club football. With Real Madrid from 1999-2003, the Spaniard won two La Liga titles to go with two Champions League crowns.
He remains the only manager in history to win the Champions League, the European Championship and the World Cup.
Despite his rich history with Madrid as both a player and a manager, Del Bosque's credentials are unprecedented. His knowledge of many Barca players and his continued pursuit of posession football make him an attractive choice for the future of the club.
2. Pep Guardiola
Surely we didn't forget about Pep!
Pep Guardiola's time with Barcelona can be considered nothing but a resounding success. When Guardiola arrived, he announced that superstars like Ronaldinho and Deco would not have a future with the squad. Despite their past accomplishments, Guardiola had a new vision.
Boy was that vision spectacular. The former defensive midfielder brought Messi into the spotlight, transforming the team with the addition of several key players.
His Champions League and domestic triumphs leave Guardiola a legend around Camp Nou. Though he left to find a new challenge, there will always be room on the touchline for him.
It might not happen after Martino, but Guardiola will surely find his way back to his beloved club before his career is through.
1. Arsene Wenger
If they can ever pry him away from London, Barcelona would do well to put Arsene Wenger in charge. The Frenchman has been with Arsenal for nearly two decades, and his list of accolades is long.
The former midfielder has won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups during his tenure with the Gunners, keeping them near the top of the table each season at the helm.
Despite regularly losing big stars—many of which to Barcelona—Wenger has managed to push Arsenal into the Champions league knockout round year after year. Though many are quick to cite the Gunner's trophy drought, it is remarkable to have such consistency with an ever-changing squad.
Wenger's style of play fits directly into the passing-based approach cultivated in Catalonia. His experience and past success make him a prime candidate for the post, should he ever search for greener pastures.
Unlike Guardiola, Wenger would bring a fresh face to La Liga, taking charge of a club that has long been a model of his footballing ideals.
It is quite possible that Wenger will retire with Arsenal, but one might believe the only club to pull him away would be Barcelona.
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