Luis Enrique shocked Barcelona and Spain by announcing that he would leave the club after his side thrashed Sporting Gijon by six goals to one at the Camp Nou in midweek. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid player told the press:
“I won’t be at Barcelona next season. I need to rest. I would like to thank the club for the confidence they have shown in me. It’s been three unforgettable years. It’s a very difficult decision for me, one I’ve thought about a lot, but I think I need to be true to myself and fair to my way of thinking… The reason is I live my work looking for solutions and it gives me little time to rest. I’d like to thank the club for the confidence they’ve shown in me over my time. They gave me the chance to coach the B team, I did that, and these three years have been unforgettable. I thank the club for all the support and professionalism and I’m not forgetting there are still three incredible months to go.”
It brings an end to a three year spell at the club in which he has already won a treble in his first season and a double in the second campaign, with the Catalans sitting on top of La Liga, although Real Madrid have a game in hand, and have reached the final of the Copa Del Rey this season.
However, Enrique has not been the popular figure that you may imagine. One of the biggest criticisms of Enrique, particularly this season, has been the loss of the club’s DNA. With the club’s famous La Masia shrinking in influence, with Sergi Roberto the only player to establish himself having come through the club under Enrique. Tactical shifts and a lack of dominance in midfield haven’t helped either, though he has been hamstrung by a summer of poor buys with Andre Gomes among those to have failed to live up to expectations.
The club are believed to be looking for somebody who has this knowledge of the club, according to Guillem Balague, after both Enrique and Pep Guardiola before him have stepped down after intense pressure from being the spokesperson of ‘more than a club’.
Read on over the next few pages to see five of the top candidates for the job…