Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova is to step down due to ill health, Spanish media reported on Friday, without identifying the source of their information.
Vilanova, 44, has been battling throat cancer for the past couple of years and spent two months having treatment in New York last season. Barca vice president Javier Faus said he was unable to confirm the reports when contacted by telephone.
A Barca spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. Club president Sandro Rosell and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta are due to hold a news conference at 1830 GMT on Friday.
Sport reported that Joan Francesc Ferrer, known as “Rubi”, may be in line to take over. Ferrer led Girona to the second division playoffs last season and was appointed Vilanova’s assistant for the coming campaign to help with technical analysis of Barca’s rivals. Vilanova succeeded his close friend Pep Guardiola at the end of the 2011-12 season after Guardiola – now coach of Bayern Munich – decided to take a year out from football.
The pair, who were at Barca’s academy together and coached the B side before stepping up to the first team in 2008, led the club on a spectacular four-year run including two Champions League crowns and three La Liga titles.
Last season, Vilanova helped Barca to a fourth La Liga success in five years as they equalled Real Madrid’s record points haul from the previous term.