La Liga 2016/17: Luis Enrique to quit Barcelona at the end of the season
Barcelona have struggled to hit the heights of previous years under Enrique this season.
What’s the story?
FC Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has announced that he will leave the Camp Nou outfit at the end of the current season. The news came only minutes after the Blaugrana’s 6-1 thumping win over Sporting Gijon – which helped them overtake Real Madrid in the La Liga table, temporarily.
There has been much speculation regarding the future of the former Barcelona captain – especially in light of their humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie.
The manager announced his decision to leave the club in the press conference following Barcelona’s win. Here is what he said:
"I will not be the coach of Barcelona next season. It is a difficult, measured and well thought out decision, and I think I have to be loyal to what I think.
"There are three exciting months ahead. We are in a difficult situation, especially in one competition, but with the help of everyone and if the stars align, we can turn that game around. I will give my full dedication in these three months.
"The reason is the way in which I live this profession. It means very few hours of rest."
In case you didn’t know...
Enrique had spent 8 years of his playing career at Barcelona following a free transfer from arch-rivals Real Madrid in 1996. The Spaniard went on to captain the Camp Nou outfit while making 300 appearances for them.
The 46-year-old was appointed the manager of Barcelona after Tata Martino had resigned from his post at the end of the 2013/14 season. Since then he has guided the Blaugrana to consecutive La Liga and Copa del Rey triumphs, coupled with 4 other trophies – UEFA Champions League in 2014/15, UEFA Super Cup in 2015, FIFA Club World Cup in 2015 and the Supercopa de Espana in 2016.
In fact, under his guidance, Barcelona won the quintuple in 2015 – winning 5 trophies in a calendar year – missing out on only the Supercopa de Espana.
The heart of the matter
Enrique’s contract was due to expire in the summer and the Spaniard has decided that he will not be extending his stay at the club where he won 8 trophies in 3 years and has a chance to add to this tally before he walks away in the summer.
Barcelona may be in the finals of the Copa del Rey and challenging for the La Liga title but the performances from the team have been below par for most of the season and they have had to rely on the brilliance of Lionel Messi to bail them out of tight situations more often than not.
Barcelona are expected to begin their hunt for the next manager who can take the club forward, with a number of high-profile names already being linked with them. These include Barcelona legend and current Everton manager Ronald Koeman, Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli and out-of-favour Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
It is still unclear whether Enrique would take a sabbatical from management after relinquishing his post in the summer – a path adopted by his former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola – who was also Enrique’s teammate during the 90s.
Barcelona looked to have stagnated under Enrique so far this season and despite the huge summer outlay on additions, they were performing way below par. It is probably in the best interest of both parties that the Spaniard looks for greener pastures, allowing someone else to take the club forward.
It will be interesting to note who finally takes up the Barcelona hot seat – easily one of the most demanding jobs in the world.