Friday Kickoff: Martino introduced as Barcelona manager; Qatar World Cup could start in November; and more

Friday Kickoff: Martino introduced as Barcelona manager; Qatar World Cup could start in November; and more

South American Soccer

Friday Kickoff: Martino introduced as Barcelona manager; Qatar World Cup could start in November; and more

GerardoMartinoBarcelona1 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Making quick work of negotiations, Barcelona only needed seven days to appoint a replacement for the ill Tito Vilanova as manager of Barcelona.

Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta introduced Gerardo “Tata” Martino to the press on Friday, making Martino the fourth Argentine manager in Barcelona’s history as he signed a two-year contract with the club. During the introductory press conference, Martino said it was a privilege to be manager of Barcelona.

Martino addressed a number of points during his press conference, from wishing Vilanova well in his fight against cancer, to ending any rumors of Lionel Messi’s involvement in his appointment, saying that the two don’t know each other despite both being from Rosario. The Argentine manager also put an end to the Cesc Fabregas transfer rumors, saying that they if another offer for the Spanish midfielder came in, it would be quickly rejected.

Martino will catch up with the rest of the Barcelona squad later today, as they are already in Oslo, Norway, getting set for a preseason friendly match against local side Vålerenga on Saturday.

Here are some more stories to get your Friday started:

NOVEMBER WORLD CUP A POSSIBILITY

Most reports on a potential winter World Cup in Qatar has it taking place in January of 2022. But according to a report in Germany, that World Cup could take place two months earlier.

The report states that someone inside FIFA has revealed that the world soccer organization is considering starting the tournament in November, with a final occurring on December 18. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has recently confirmed that he will ask the Executive Committee this October to look at moving the World Cup to a winter schedule that year, as temperatures in the Persian Gulf nation could soar well over 100 degrees F.

Many European league officials have voiced their displeasure already with the reports of a potential winter World Cup, because they would have to completely alter their schedules.

CONTRACT TALKS CONTINUE WITH BALE

With continued speculation of Gareth Bale’s potential departure from White Hart Lane, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas has divulged that the club is continuing to hold contract talks with the Welsh star.

Villas-Boas sounded confident that chairman Daniel Levy, who is leading the negotiations, would be successful in working with Bale and his agent to sign a new and improved contract. Bale’s current contract runs through 2016.

Last season, the 24-year-old midfielder earned numerous English Premier League Player of the Year awards after a thrilling season, scoring 21 goals in 33 league games, and totally dominating stretches of the season.

VERRATTI ASKS TO LEAVE PSG

Just one day after Paris Saint-Germain rejected what was termed a “major offer” from Napoli for Italian youngster Marco Verratti, the player in question has reportedly decided he’s had enough of life in Paris.

Multiple reports in France state that Verratti, 20, is looking to triple his wages, something PSG is not interested in doing at the moment. Currently, the reports state that the Italian Under-21 player makes upwards of €800,000 per season. If PSG doesn’t find a happy medium, the former Pescara midfielder could potentially leave the club.

Verratti’s agent has continued negotiations with the Parisian club, who have offered back a new contract that will pay €1.7 million per season. Verratti’s current contract ends in 2017.

QUICK KICKS

Chelsea have made a €9.4 million transfer offer for Botafogo starlet Dória (REPORT)

Honduran defender Juan Carlos Garcia has joined Wigan Athletic, becoming the fifth player from Honduras to join the club. (REPORT)

AS Roma have signed goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis on a two-year contract. (REPORT)

Arsenal have continued their 100 percent preseason record with a 2-1 victory over Urawa Red Diamonds in the English club’s last game on their tour of Asia. (REPORT)

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What do you think of this news? Do you see Martino leading Barcelona to another title this season? How do you think a November World Cup would be received around the world? Do you see Bale staying at Tottenham?

Share your thoughts below.

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