Roberto Martínez set to become next Portugal coach

Former Belgium manager Roberto Martínez has reached a verbal agreement to take over as Portugal’s new coach, according to reports.

The Spaniard will succeed Fernando Santos, who departed after eight years in charge of the Seleção after the Qatar World Cup. 

Speculation suggested the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) had earmarked José Mourinho as their top target to take over, but Mourinho himself gave no indication he was willing to leave his current position at Roma mid-contract.

Current Portugal U21 boss Rui Jorge was also thought to be well-placed. The choice of Martínez will surprise many.

Athletic journalist David Ornstein today reports that the appointment of Martínez: “is on course to be finalised by the end of next week.”

Born in Balaguer in north-eastern Spain, Martínez played most of his career as a defensive midfielder in England, and then spent a decade managing in the country, mostly in the English Premier League for Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Everton, before taking over as Belgium’s head coach in 2016.

His managerial highlights include leading Swansea City to promotion to the Championship (England’s second tier), winning the FA Cup with Wigan and guiding Belgium to third place at the FIFA 2018 World Cup.

The initial reaction to his impending appointment in Portugal has been lukewarm, to say the least.

The FPF will point to the fact that the hiring of Santos was not well received to begin with, before the Engenheiro went on to lead Portugal to European Championship glory in 2016 and the Nations League title in 2019.

by Tom Kundert

Related: Fernando Santos relieved of his duties as Portugal coach