One of La Liga’s worst kept secrets has finally officially been confirmed with Barcelona Head Coach Luis Enrique announcing he will step down as manager of Barcelona at the end of the season.
After hearing the news had a quick chat with Pablo Henriquez, journalist at FootballPredictions.com, to analyse the current situation in the Camp Nou and how it would affect Barcelona in the rest of the season.
Speaking after his side hammered Sporting Gijon 6-1, he told reporters “It is a difficult, measured and well thought-out decision and I think I have to be loyal to what I think” (Source BBC).
The rumours have been rife for months with many football betting predictions going on Enrique leaving the Catalan giants well before the announcement was officially made.
Enrique took over the Barcelona reigns in 2014 after stints as manager at Italian giants Roma and La Liga side Celta Vigo.
The move made sense as Enrique was close the hearts of all those involved at Barcelona as he made over two hundred appearances for the club as player between 1996 and 2004.
Despite a turbulent time in charge of the Catalans (including a bust up with golden boy Lionel Messi), Enrique’s tenure can be deemed a success.
Silverware has followed in abundance as he claimed two La Liga titles, two Copa Del Rey’s, the Champions League in 2015 and even the Fifa Club World Cup also in 2015.
There can be no doubting Enrique’s talent as a player and manager but it has been clear of late the pressures of the role have been getting to him making the decision one that was probably made a few months ago.
Naturally, the attention will now turn to Enrique’s replacement, with the bookmakers trying to get their football predictions in early.
The Barcelona job is a big draw and a number of names have already been bandied about. Sevilla’s head coach Jorge Sampaoli has impressed this season turning the Sevillista’s into genuine title challengers and has for a while been one of the favourites for the role.
Sampaoli would bring South American experience and recent La Liga form with him to the role and would fit naturally into the management position despite only having played at youth level for Newell’s Old Boys.
Closer to the Premier League, and Everton’s Ronald Koeman is a name that has been mentioned as a possible replacement at the Camp Nou.
The Dutchman has impressed during his time in England with both Southampton and Everton and would no doubt relish the chance to manage the side he made over 190 appearances for between 1989 and 1995.
He would also bring experience of having managed some of Europe’s biggest clubs in Ajax, PSV and Valencia and was even Barcelona assistant boss from 1998 to 2000.
Could Pep Return?
Yes, but most probably not, Guardiola was seen as the man who took Barcelona to the next level but he may feel he needs to fulfil his destiny in England first.
Barcelona almost became a comfort blanket for Pep and many still view him to have something to prove in England.
It is most likely there will be no announcement until much later in the season but speculation will be rife as to Enrique’s replacement.
With difficult upcoming matches in the Champions League and La Liga the pressure remain the same for Luis Enrique which will have to stay on top of his game to be remembered as an important coach in the club’s history.
However, for now, Let the guessing game begin.