Off the back of a 6-1 victory tonight against Sporting Gijón, Luis Enrique have announced that he will be stepping down as Barcelona manager at the end of the season.
Despite winning the league in both seasons that he has managed, and the treble in the 2014/15 season (La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League), a disappointing season (from Barcelona’s standards) so far has left many questioning him.
With Real Madrid one point behind in second with a game in hand, Barcelona have certainly closed the gap on their long time rivals, but without slip ups against the likes of Real Betis and Alavés, this season could be a lot different.
Enrique has been quoted of saying he”needs a break” from management, which you can understand with the pressure of being Barcelona manager must hold. In his post-match interview, Guilllem Balague said that he said that ‘three years is a long time at a club like Barcelona’, and that the club told him that it was up to him when he wanted to leave.
He will now be hoping to finish strong, with the club in the final of the Copa del Rey and still in contention for the league title. But he will have a tough task on his hands to keep them in the Champions League, after their 4-0 loss to PSG last month in the first leg of the round of 16.
Barcelona’s president, however, has confidence that Enrique will bring in the silverware at the end of the season.
“Luis Enrique has brought us great success and he can still bring us more. The players are motivated to do it.” 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.”
With all the achievements that Enrique has brought over the past three seasons, replacing him may be a tough task. Top of the list so far according to bookmakers, Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli.
The former Chile manager has rejuvenated a Sevilla side who regularly won the Europa League, and brought them up into genuine title contenders, just five points behind Barcelona with a game in hand.
Whether Sevilla would let him go is another question, but the lure of Barcelona may be too good to turn down.