After Barcelona 6-1 win over Sporting Gijon on Wednesday, Luis Enrique made a shocking revelation in the post-match press conference at the Ricasrd Maxenchs press-room, he said he would resign at the end of the season.
The 46-year-old’s contract comes to an end in June and he has decided to take a walk from the club stating his need to rest and regain his strength as the reason.
The search for Enrique’s replacement is underway and here we bring you five potential candidates that could be considered:
1. Juan Carlos Unzue
Diario Sport claims Enrique prefers to be replaced by his assistant Unzue. The Spaniard is already handling most of the teams game plan including set pieces. He directs the team from the sidelines when they play against lesser clubs.
The only negative part of him is the fact that Unzue is yet to coach a club in the top-tier but this might not be a hindrance because Tito Vilanova was also inexperience before he became the manager in 2012.
2. Jorge Sampaoli
The Sevilla coach has expressed his wish to coach the Barcelona team if presented with the opportunity. He has shown much affinity for Barca players especially Lionel Messi since they clashed with his side at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan in November.
The Argentine managerial style, his way of making his team control the ball would please the Purists at Camp Nou who Luis Enrique has failed to acknowledge. Sampaoli has put in a huge effort in keeping Sevilla in the bid for the Spanish title glory. The fact that he hasn’t been in association with Blaugrana for any reason might be a stumbling block as the club is known to hire those who has a past with them.
3. Eusebio Sacristan
Sacristan, like Enrique and Guardiola, is a former Barca team B coach, but unlike the others, he was axed following a string of poor result. The club’s supporters were irked at the way he managed the team which resulted in the team dropping down to relegation status.
But ever since joining Real Sociedad, he has built up his reputation, leading the LaLiga club to the fourth Champions League spot.
He has enough experience with Barca, as he was once a midfielder at Camp Nou and also an assistant manager to Frank Rijkaard for five years.
4. Ernesto Valverde
He had a brief stunt at Barcelona as a player between 1988 and 1990 but he is more renowned for his time at Athletic Bilbao first as a player, where he moved up the ladder to become the coach.
He returned to Athletic Bilbao for the second time leadig the club to qualify for the UEFA Champions League in his first year whilst also reaching the final of the 2015 Spanish Cup the following season. In 2015 Valverde led the Lions to their first major trophy in 31 years after a 5–1 aggregate defeat of Barcelona for the Supercopa de España.
Valverde is the best possible option, but the time spent at Athletic might have made him loose touch with Barca’s style but with time he would find his feet if he ends up at Camp Nou.
5. Ronald Koeman
Koeman is at the bottom of the consideration list for the Spanish club but he has also been linked with a possible move to Camp Nou severally and he has also said he would like to coach the club in the future.
Koeman has a long past with Barcelona, in 1989 he became a member of the famous dream team. Along with players such as Hristo Stoichkov, Romário, Pep Guardiola and Michael Laudrup, Koeman helped the club win La Liga four years in a row. It was his goal at Wembley Stadium that saw them European Champion for the first time in its history which they plan to celebrate the 25th anniversary later this year. He could be brought back to Camp Nou in time for the celebration.