Soccer-Messi influenced my Barcelona appointment, says Martino

ROSARIO, Argentina, July 23 (Reuters) – Gerardo Martino believes a recommendation from fellow Argentine Lionel Messi was behind his surprise appointment as Barcelona coach on Monday.

“The details of how the situation developed I don’t know (but) I have no doubt Jorge (Messi’s father) and Lionel had some influence,” Martino, the former Paraguay coach, told a news conference in Rosario.

“I’m sure they were asked their opinion and we’ve come to this outcome,” added the 50-year-old, who comes from Rosario like the Messis.

Martino, who led Newell’s Old Boys to the Argentine “Final” championship last month, added: “I was expecting some job proposals and I can’t say I was expecting this one.

“The situation was unexpected and of course it took me by surprise,” added Martino, who quit Newell’s after the lost their Libertadores Cup semi-final.

Barcelona went in search of a new coach after Tito Vilanova had to step aside for more treatment against throat cancer. (Writing by Rex Gowar in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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