Barcelona: Who Are the Candidates to Replace Tito Vilanova as Manager?
After the terribly sad news on Friday that Tito Vilanova would relinquish his position as Barcelona manager due to an ongoing battle with cancer, the club have announced they will present a new boss within the week, via FCBarcelona.com.
The swiftness of Sandro Rosell and Andoni Zubizarreta's actions suggest they were prepared for the scenario in which Tito's illness would rule him out of continuing his role at Camp Nou.
Now, while well-wishes from across the football world and beyond pour in for Vilanova, speculation heats up as to who will take over the Barca hot seat.
Over the following slides, Bleacher Report weighs in on the front-runners, while also taking a look at some of the long shots...
Gerardo Martino, nicknamed Tata, has emerged as one of the favorites to replace Vilanova.
The 50-year-old has recently ended his relationship with Newell's Old Boys—in his one season in charge he won the Toreno Final before losing in the Superfinal to Velez Sarsfield.
Tata was born in Rosario, the same city as Lionel Messi, and as a player spent a brief period at the end of his career playing for Barcelona Sporting Club in Ecuador.
His managerial career has strictly been based in Argentina and Paraguay, and he managed the Paraguayan national team at the 2010 World Cup.
According to Marca (Spanish language link only available), Barcelona have already made contact with Martino regarding their managerial vacancy.
Joan Francesc Ferrer
Like Martino, another man with a nickname could be the new Barcelona manager if the club decide to promote from within.
Joan Francesc Ferrer, more commonly known as Rubi, only joined Tito Vilanova's staff this summer after leading Girona to within a whisker of promotion to La Liga.
The 43-year-old is Catalan-born and would possibly be the preferred option of the current staff over the likes of Jordi Roura and B-team coach Eusebio Sacristan.
However, early indications point toward an appointment being made from further afield this time.
One man without a job who could possibly fit straight in with Barcelona's style is Marcelo Bielsa.
It is well known that Josep Guardiola spent time with Bielsa prior to taking the Barcelona job, and that a lot of his ideas were sprung from the Argentine's methods.
And the soon-to-be 58-year-old is a free man, having recently left Athletic Bilbao after two fairly different seasons.
In his first season, the Basque side reached the Europa League and Copa del Rey finals playing fast-paced, high-tempo football to the acclaim of the majority of Europe.
This past season was less spectacular, though, as Athletic struggled to hit similar heights.
However, Bielsa is still highly thought of in football circles, and may well feature on Barca's shortlist.
As a player, Luis Enrique crossed the Real Madrid/Barcelona divide in 1996 to join Barca, and he has been an adopted Catalan ever since.
His first role as a manager was at the helm of Barcelona B, taking over from Guardiola in 2008 and spending three successful seasons with the club.
In his second season he led the club to promotion to La Segunda—after an 11-year absence—where he would lead the club to the playoffs, although they were ineligible for promotion.
Italy beckoned after that, and Enrique took charge of Roma; after one fairly indifferent season in the Italian capital, though, he decided to leave the club after failing to qualify for European football.
The 43-year-old took over at Celta Vigo this summer, and he has already exercised his Barca connections by signing Andreu Fontas and Rafinha Alcantara.
Frank De Boer
Former Barcelona defender and current Ajax manager Frank de Boer is another potential Barca manager.
The 43-year-old spent over four seasons at Camp Nou and made over 200 appearances between 1998 and 2003.
Since becoming Ajax boss, following a spell as Holland's No. 2, he has led the club to three straight Eredivisie titles and is widely tipped to have an exciting future in management.
Lluis Carreras is another La Masia graduate who has recently been taking his first steps in management.
This summer the 40-year-old left his position at Catalan club Sabadell after a spell in which he led them to La Segunda and kept them in Spain's second tier.
His playing days included spells with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, while he spent a lengthy period with Mallorca.
Andre Villas-Boas: The current Tottenham manager would be a young, stylish appointment, but has he done enough to be considered this time round?
Vitor Pereira: Former Porto manager Pereira, 44, has only just taken over at Al-Ahli this summer, but still finds himself on the odds to be the next Barca manager. Seems unlikely.
Jurgen Klopp: Charismatic, media-friendly and seemingly a good manager judging by Borussia Dortmund in recent seasons. Undoubtedly likely to take on a new challenge in the future, but this opportunity could be the wrong time.
Michael Laudrup: The Dane won the League Cup and led Swansea to a top-10 finish in the Premier League last season. He was also a member of the Barcelona "Dream Team" in the early '90s—a perfect fit?
Juup Heynckes: A free man after parting ways with Bayern Munich after a treble-winning season. Could Barcelona tempt him to take on one last job? Would they consider him?
Arsene Wenger: Arsenal have been playing the "Barca way" under Wenger for many years now: Could that persuade Barca to pursue the Frenchman?
Who do you want to be Barca's next manager? Who do you think it will be?