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

  1. slowleftarm says:

    2022 WC in USA!

    • Looks like I will finally be able to attend a World Cup! I have no problem traveling to other countries, but of course, it’s much nicer to stay in a country I’m familiar with.

      Gonna have to save up some extra money.

  2. SaboCM says:

    So nice of FIFA to consider moving the World Cup so as to not interfere with the MLS schedule #PowerOfGulatiAtWork

  3. Reboot says:

    Tiki Taka Tito Tata

  4. HoboMike says:

    So after years of telling anyone who will listen that the World Cup will never be moved, and that all bids for the 2022 WC needed to be based upon the summer months, Blatter is now changing his tune.

    It’s amazing how much power this man has.

    • DaveInSLO says:

      It’s more amazing that all the bribes have been cashed and spent, so there’s no going back now…

  5. Wispy says:

    Wait . . . the same Juan Carlos Garcia that Bedoya torched time and again on Wednesday night is moving to the Premiership? Granted, that’s the only time I’ve seen Garcia play, but either (1) he had a bad game, or (2) Bedoya needs to move to a better league.

    • Juest says:

      Wigan was demoted to the Championship, but Bedoya could still use an upgrade.

      • bryan says:

        well Twente was heavily linked with signing Bedoya before the Gold Cup…so hopefully we’ll see it happen.

  6. Mig says:

    Gotta love the prospect of Martino getting fired some years in the future. It’s not that I wish him ill, but only because I want to see the headline “Barca to Tata: Ta Ta”

  7. Smith says:

    The World Cup would take place ten months later in December 2022, not two months earlier. The 2022 World Cup ending in 2021 would be even more awkward than what they are talking about now.

    • David says:

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed that gaffe.

    • slowleftarm says:

      Yeah but I think the proposal is actually for November 2021. I know it makes no sense but remember this FIFA and Sepp Blatter we’re talking about.

      • Smith says:

        I totally agree with you about Sepp and FIFA, but the Kicker article actually mentions November and December 2022.

  8. AcidBurn says:

    Well I’m sure the heads of the European leagues will have no problem with the Nov-Dec WC, just throw a quick break into their schedules and compress them a bit…no problem.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA. Get your popcorn.

    Sepp: “Hello, BPL? We’re moving the WC to the winter.”
    BPL Chairman: “Really? Good luck with that. Sorry to inform you that BPL is busy during this time, you senile fool.” Click.
    Sepp: “Hello? Hello?”

  9. Travis says:

    This Qatar WC is setting up for the major club vs country showdown that most people have seen coming for a while. I thought it would be over finances but this might do it.

    • DaveInSLO says:

      I don’t think (m)any European Leagues are interested in radically changing their schedules just to make good on Qatar’s empty promises and bribes that went to FIFA officials that may end up holding less sway over the entire world of soccer than those FIFA officials would like to believe. The NCAA is in for a rude awakening in the coming months…FIFA could be in for the same in the coming years.

  10. DC Josh says:

    So all of those nations that bid on a summer World Cup in 2022 now get to bid on a winter World Cup, correct?

    It seems fair to me, and I hope the major European leagues fight the move. This is such a sham, it is both embarrassing and enraging. Blatter and the Executive Committee KNEW about the temperatures during summer in Qatar, and they voted for Qatar anyway. Maybe they should have considered how logical it was to host a World Cup in the middle of the desert.

    Besides, all the World Cup does now is put unnecessary financial strain on tiny nations. Even Brazil — one of the financial strengths in the world — is having issues.

  11. beachbum says:

    is this the opportunity for a rival world governing body to emerge? how possible is anything like that?

  12. bryan says:

    yeah, the 2022 WC is already a disaster. i mean, there shouldn’t be this much press for a tourny in 2022 unless there is something seriously wrong. which there is.

    also, Verratti, go to hell. what a spoiled POS. 20 years old and making 800,000 Euros a season and still isn’t satisfied. it would be one thing to want to leave for a legit reason, but simple wanting to leave PSG so you can triple your wages is ridiculous.