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FC Barcelona look to Lionel Messi favourite Jorge Sampaoli to replace Luis Enrique

  • Jorge Sampaoli and Leo Messi share a special bond that could just become a lot stronger
Anirudh Menon
FEATURED COLUMNIST
News
Modified 24 Jan 2017, 18:10 IST
Sampaoli and Messi – on opposing sides at Copa America 2015


What’s the story?

Barcelona are looking for a new manager to replace a beleagued Luis Enrique, and Sevilla’s superstar manager Jorge Sampaoli is favourite to win the race, as per reports in Spain. If he does get the nod, he will have beaten out competition from the managers of the two Basque giants – Eusebio Sacristan of Real Sociedad and Ernesto Valverde of Athletic Bilbao. 

In case you didn’t know...

Jorge Sampaoli been coaching for nearly 16 years – starting at the age of 34 - but this is his first year coaching in Europe. After having guided to Chile’s first major international trophy (in 100 years of trying) by winning the Copa America 2015 against his countrymen, Argentina – led by Leo Messi – he took up the challenge of guiding Sevilla through a tumultous period after long time coach Unai Emery’s departure. 

Also read –  Is this the summer of the dancing bullfighters of Seville?

He has already lifted Sevilla to second, and his team play some of the most exciting football in Europe. 

The heart of the matter

Luis Enrique has not had a great season at Barcelona, they may be only a couple of points behind hated rivals Real Madrid but they are third in the table, and that is simply not acceptable in the demanding environs of the Camp Nou. Worse, they have looked largely disjointed in their play against the tougher opposition in La Liga, and Europe, relying mostly on individual moments of magic to carry them through. 

This goes against the ethos of Barcelona that Pep Guardiola helped popularise – emphasising team work over individual ability. Many at Barcelona feel that this is due to Luis Enrique’s inability to reach the same levels as his more illustrious predecessors. 

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Jorge Sampaoli has another major factor going for him, Lionel Messi loves him. In fact, according to El Confidencial, Messi wanted Barcelona to sign Sampaoli before they pitched for Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martina citing Sampaoli’s lack of experience at the top level.

What’s next?

Messi’s admiration for Sampaoli is well reciprocated by the charismatic manager. After the little genius single-handedly took on Sevilla (and won), he said, “sometimes Messi lets you stop him, sometimes he doesn’t.” Recently he even compared Messi to Batman, saying that Messi is to every other footballer as what the Dark Knight is to ordinary policemen.

Also, Read – Lionel Messi's 2005 Youth World Cup winning Argentina Squad: Where are they now?

He is also quoted to have said -  "Who would not like to coach him? If you make a player like Messi happy, you have 95% of the game done."

With Messi’s ever increasing power and influence at Barcelona, and Sampaoli making waves at Sevilla (where he has a two-year contract), this looks like a distinct possibility

Sportskeeda’s Take

Sampaoli is arguably the most exciting manager in world football today – and Enrique one of the most overrated in this writer’s opinion. One one can just imagine the kind of havoc Sampaoli would wreck havoc with the fabled trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar at his disposal.

It would truly make for some brilliant viewing, and as neutrals, we can’t hope for more

Published 24 Jan 2017, 16:20 IST
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