Barcelona deny manager Gerardo Martino’s departure rumours

Barcelona, March 18: Barcelona have acted quickly to dismiss a story that coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino would abandon the football club at the end of the season.

Catalan sports network Esport 3 said Monday that Martino would not be the Barca coach next season given that the Argentinean didn’ t want to carry on at the club, a story which was quickly denied by Manel Arroyo, communication vice-president at Barcelona.

“We strongly deny that Tata Martino has announced to his technical staff not to anyone, his intention of leaving the club at the end of the season. It is false,” said Arroyo.

“We have just spoken to him,” said Arroyo, “The technical staff at the club are working on the planning as is their obligation.”

“We see Martino as he should be, totally concentrated in the challenges that the team has ahead of it and neither of the two parties has the least intention to activate the clause which would allow either to end the contract.”

Esport 3 published the original story in the wake of controversial declarations made by Martino ahead of Sunday’s 7-0 win at home to Osasuna in which he said that he had not taken part in any discussions to plan for next season and added that as far as he knew no discussions had taken place to plan for the 2014-2015 season, words which seem to contradict what Arroyo said.

Martino has been criticised for attempting to change Barca’s style of play, adopting more long balls and surrendering some aspects of the passing game which is held as almost sacred at the club. His side has produced some poor displays such as the 0-1 defeat in Valladolid just over a week ago and a 1-3 thrashing away to Real Sociedad a fortnight earlier.

However, they are only four points behind Real Madrid, who they also meet in the final of the Copa del Rey and last week qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League after knocking out Manchester City.

Barcelona have also suffered off the field with Sando Rosell forced to resign the club Presidency in January after accusations of tax avoidance linked to the signing of Brazilian striker Neymar.