'Martino, Luis Enrique good fit for Barca'

Vilanova was forced to step down as Barcelona’s coach last week due to his treatment for throat cancer.

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova. Picture: AFP

BARCELONA - Gerardo Martino and Luis Enrique are both suitable candidates to succeed Tito Vilanova as Barcelona coach as their philosophies chime well with the team's playing style, captain Carles Puyol said on Monday.

Martino, 50, who recently led Newell's Old Boys to the final title in his native Argentina, and the 43-year-old Luis Enrique, a former Spain and Barca player who joined Celta Vigo last month, have emerged in local media as the front runners for the coveted post.

Puyol told a post-training news conference he was sure sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and the club's board would hire a coach able to adapt to Barca's possession-based ethic.

"We know about his career, he is a very good coach," the shaggy-haired centre back said of Martino.

"He likes Barcelona's playing style," he said, adding that he remembered Spain's quarter-final against Martino's Paraguay at the 2010 World Cup, which they edged 1-0, as "a very difficult, very hard game".

On Luis Enrique, who may be a more controversial choice given that he also had a stint playing for Barca's arch rivals Real Madrid, Puyol said: "Everyone knows that I have a very good relationship with Luis.

"I think he has what it takes but that's the same for the other candidates who have been mentioned.

"I don't know who will come ... we are ready to help whoever comes in any way we can."

Barca need to move swiftly to appoint a successor as they launch their bid for a fifth La Liga title in six years in less than a month.

Dutchman Guus Hiddink, 66, is also reportedly in the running after he unexpectedly quit as manager of Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala on Monday.

One reason Martino is seen as a likely candidate is that he is from the city of Rosario where Barca's World Player of the Year Lionel Messi was born.

Luis Enrique's chances, meanwhile, may also be hampered by the fact he only recently agreed to join Celta as well as memories of an unsuccessful stint at Serie A side AS Roma during the 2011-12 campaign.

Barca postponed a pre-season friendly against Polish side Lechia Gdansk at the weekend because of Friday's announcement that Vilanova was leaving.

They are due to play German and European champions Bayern Munich, who are managed by former Barca player and coach Pep Guardiola, in a friendly in the Bavarian capital on Wednesday.