5 Possible Replacements for Embattled Barcelona Manager Tata Martino

Jerrad Peters@@jerradpetersWorld Football Staff WriterApril 14, 2014

5 Possible Replacements for Embattled Barcelona Manager Tata Martino

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    Tata Martino has reportedly “lost” the dressing room at Barcelona.

    This is according to a Monday report in Marca that also suggested the Argentine would not be in charge of the Catalan giants next season “barring an unthinkable turn of events.”

    Club captain Carles Puyol has since stated he and his teammates “can’t control the criticism” of their manager and that it was “easier to attack the coach” than the squad, as per Marca.

    But an early Champions League exit combined with a disappointing showing in La Liga will likely see Martino leave the Camp Nou in the summer, and speculation is already building regarding his replacement.

    The following slideshow will rank the top five candidates to replace the embattled 51-year-old.

5. Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid

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    At present, Diego Simeone is persona non grata in the Catalan capital, which has seen the Argentine guide Atletico Madrid past Barcelona in the Champions League and into first place in La Liga.

    Of course, the 43-year-old’s perception among the Camp Nou faithful would change in an instant if he was appointed manager of Barcelona, and given what he has so far accomplished with Atletico, it’s simply impossible to rule him out of the running.

    Simeone has turned a squad of outcasts and up-and-comers into one of the most formidable teams in Europe, and the combative approach he encourages would perhaps provide Barcelona with the shake-up they so clearly require.

4. Frank De Boer, Ajax

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    A single point is all Ajax require to secure another Eredivisie title.

    It would be manager Frank de Boer’s third in succession as manager of the Amsterdam outfit, for whom he also won five championships as a player.

    De Boer also won a Primera Division crown in 1999 with Barcelona, and given both his links to the Catalan capital and philosophy of free-flowing, high-pressing football he is a natural candidate to replace Martino during the summer.

    Ajax and Barcelona have a long and illustrious relationship regarding values and personnel, and it would hardly be surprising if de Boer became just the latest Dutchman to take the reins at Camp Nou.

3. Luis Enrique, Celta Vigo

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    Celta Vigo have been one of the surprise stories in La Liga this season.

    Under Luis Enrique’s leadership, Os Celticos have climbed to 12th in the Spanish top flight with five matches to play and are just four points back of ninth.

    They’ve also played some eye-catching football, which is hardly surprising giving Enrique’s time as both a Barcelona player and youth coach.

    That background automatically puts the 43-year-old, who has also managed a season at AS Roma, on Barcelona’s managerial shortlist, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s been working with on-loan playmaker Rafinha throughout the campaign.

2. Eusebio Sacristan, Barcelona B

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    Eusebio Sacristan played seven seasons at Barcelona, winning four titles and the European Cup.

    Since retiring as a player in 2002, he has worked at various levels in club management—from a Barcelona assistant to Celta Vigo manager.

    He is currently in charge of the Catalans’ “B” squad, and as a result, he’ll likely be considered for the first-team position when Martino departs the club.

    Given their impending transfer ban, Barcelona will be relying more than ever on their youth setup to graduate senior players next season, and Sacristan is best positioned to oversee those promotions.

1. Jurgen Klopp, Borussia Dortmund

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    Borussia Dortmund have already begun making preparations for next season, and those plans have so far included current manager Jurgen Klopp.

    The 46-year-old is one of Europe’s most popular managers, and since arriving at Dortmund in 2008, his sides have espoused an attacking, high-pressing philosophy not at all dissimilar to that employed at Camp Nou.

    Spanish outlet Sport (as relayed by ESPN FC) has already reported that Klopp is Barcelona’s first choice to replace Martino ahead of next season, and with a pair of Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final appearance already under his belt, it’s possible the bespectacled, unkempt manager could be looking for a new challenge.

    Barcelona would certainly provide it, and with player acquisitions unlikely given the transfer ban, it’s possible Klopp could be the club’s biggest signing of the summer.