Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has confirmed that he will not be in charge next season, saying that he ‘needs a rest.’
Enrique has been in charge since 2014, when he replaced Tata Martino, and he has won La Liga twice as well as the Copa del Rey twice and Champions League once.
His first season in charge culminated in a treble when Barca’s attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar took the football world by storm.
WHAT ENRIQUE SAID
“I would like to thank the club for the confidence they have shown in me, it’s been three unforgettable years,” Enrique said.
“In pre-season I had a meeting with (Barca directors) Albert Soler and Robert Fernandez in which I told them about the possibility of not renewing my contract.
“They told me there was no hurry to make a decision, but now that moment has arrived.
” This is a very difficult decision for me which I have thought about for a very long time but I think I have to be loyal and do what I think is right. ”
“In my work I am constantly looking for solutions and that means I get no time to rest, I need to rest and that’s my main motive for leaving,” he added.
“I’d like to show my gratitude to the club for the confidence they have shown in me throughout my career.”
WHAT BARCELONA PRESIDENT JOSEP MARIA BARTOMEU SAID
“We accept Luis Enrique’s decision. He has been a great a coach. Now is it time to end his spell in the best possible way,” said Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
“Enrique has brought us great success and he can still bring us more. The players are motivated to do it.”
Is it a surprise that he has decided to leave? If so, why?
It’s a big surprise. It was clear that there was a chance he would not continue – either due to the tiring nature of coaching Barcelona or the poor results (as in Champions League) that Barca cannot accept.
Nobody knows. He did it after a 6-1 win that confirms Barcelona are back in the title race, but shortly before the PSG game in Champions League. The timing is a surprise.
Who are the main contenders to replace him?
It seems clear that the preferred candidate is Jorge Sampaoli of Sevilla. But don’t discount Ernesto Valverde, of Athletic, and even Gerard Lopez, who is coach of Barca B.