Luis Enrique has shocked the footballing world with the announcement of his departure from Barcelona at the end of the season.
The treble-winning manager made the announcement while speaking to the press after his side hammered Sporting Gijon 6-1 in a La Liga fixture at the Nou Camp.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) March 1, 2017
He cited a “need to rest” as his reason for stepping down after three years on the job.
”I want to announce I will not be continuing as Barcelona coach,” said the 46-year-old whose contract expires in June.
”I want to thank the club for all the faith they have shown in me. These have been three unforgettable years.”
”You don’t get a lot of rest in this job and I need to rest. Hopefully, we have three very exciting months left and if the stars align we can come back in the Champions League, and if not we still have the league and the cup.”
Luis Enrique joined Barcelona as a player in 1996 from arch-rivals Real Madrid on a free transfer. He played for the Catalans in 207 games over eight seasons before retiring in 2004. He was also captain of the team before he hung his boots.
Enrique began his coaching career with Barcelona B in 2008, taking over from Pep Guardiola. In 2011, he left the B-team to coach Roma then Celta Vigo before rejoining Barcelona’s first team in 2014, replacing Tata Martino.
After a turbulent start to his reign, Luis Enrique stirred his side to a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles in his first season. The following year he picked up a domestic double.
Following the announcement, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu added:
”Luis Enrique has brought us great success and he can still bring us more. The players are motivated to do it.”
”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.”
Luis Enrique Possible Replacement
Barcelona will be looking to find a replacement for the Enrique as soon as possible. Possible names in the hat include Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino, Athletic Bilbao’s Ernesto Valverde and Everton manager Ronald Koeman.
Others include Sevilla coach Jorge Sampaoli, who is said to be favored by Lionel Messi and then Dortmund’s Thomas Tuchel.