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Martino steps down as Barca boss

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GERARDO-MARTINO-2BARCELONA, May 17- Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino announced he will leave the club after failing to win a major title in his one season in charge.

The Catalans’ hopes of retaining La Liga were ended on Saturday by a 1-1 draw at home to Atletico Madrid which saw the side from the capital crowned champions for the first time in 18 years.

“I wanted to announce that I have reached an agreement with the club to no longer be the coach of Barcelona,” he said at his post-match press conference.

At a similar call on Friday, Tata Martino first reiterated his praise and appreciation for Carles Puyol, following his farewell speech on Thursday.

“As I said in the Puyol video, I’m thankful once again for his generosity and his selfless collaboration. Sometimes you have a special feeling with some people and with Puyol, that’s what’s happened for me. Unfortunately I’ve not been fortunate enough to work with him as long as I would have liked.”

Ahead of the game against Atlético Madrid, Martino explained that whilst there are injury doubts, all the players have been battling hard to be ready.

“It’s possible that Piqué, Neymar and Jordi Alba aren’t in the best of shape, but we haven’t got to play six games with them, just ninety minutes. We’ll have to see what happens, but first of all I have to praise the great willingness they’ve shown to get here, the great courage they’ve shown to recover, even taking into account what happens after tomorrow with their national teams.”

Regarding the contract extension of Lionel Messi, the Argentine coach felt it’s an assertive and excellent move by the club, underlining the importance of the player at Barcelona.

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