The Choices for New FC Barcelona Coach
Not too long ago, Luis Enrique announced that he would be stepping down as Barcelona’s manager at the end of the season. During his three year reign at the Nou Camp, the 46-year-old has lead the Catalan club to eight different pieces of silverware including a Champions League title, two league titles, and two Spanish Cups. Despite this success, few were surprised at Enrique’s announcement.
After his announcement, Enrique told reporters that he was “relieved” to be leaving his post. “I am only obsessed with my final three months here,” said the manager, “with enjoying them, giving my players the best solutions I can, and winning titles.” Enrique also noted that he is no longer enjoying his work, and that this was a personal decision.
With his departure looming, the rumor mill is now firmly focused on finding out who the next manager of this legendary club will be. Not one to disappoint, it’s already churned out countless candidates, but I’d like to focus on just three of my personal favorites.
Arsene Wenger is one of the most storied, and successful managers in the world, at the moment. No matter what you think about his recent performance with Arsenal, it’s impossible to argue with the success that he’s had in the Premier League. The Frenchman has won three league titles, including the famous Invincibles run in 2003/04. He has helped mange and develop legends of the game including Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Mesut Ozil, and Alexis Sanchez (although they’ve apparently fallen in a rough patch lately).
It’s not secret that Wenger’s future at the Emirates is up in the air. He’s told reporters that he’ll need to really think about his future before the end of the season, and there may finally be a real chance that we see him leading a team other than Arsenal next year.
What better club is there to manage than Barcelona? Wenger is no stranger to high pressure situations, or the challenges of handling superstar egos. His possession-based playing style would seemingly fit perfectly with Barça, and I think that the Catalans would have a difficult time finding a more experienced manager than Wenger.
With all of that being said, I don’t think that this is actually going to happen. If I had to guess, Wenger will remain at Arsenal until the day he dies, and we’ll never see an end to the #WengerOUT hashtag in London.
One of the most consistent teams in Europe over the last couple of seasons has been Sevilla. Sevilla have won two straight Europa League titles, and they currently find themselves right in the thick of the La Liga title race.
This recent surge up the table can partially be attributed to the work of Jorge Sampaoli. The 56-year-old took over the club in the summer after a four-year stint as Chile’s National Team manager. During his time with Chile, he led La Roja to an unexpected triumph in the 2015 Copa América where he defeated Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the final.
Sampaoli is renowned for his focus on attacking tactics, and his familiarity with the rigors of the Spanish league have to make him a favorite to take over at the Nou Camp. Granted, he’s only been with a top-flight European club for one season. Before he was manager of Chile, Sampaoli jumped between different Chilean club teams, and it wasn’t until he was manager of Universidad of Chile (2010-2012 that he won any silverware.
I think that Sampaoli’s introduction would be extremely popular amongst Barcelona’s fan base, and out of all the candidates, he may be the most realistic option on the table.
I don’t think that it’s any surprise that Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino is being thrown around as a potential successor to Enrique. The Argentinian has helped change Spurs into a real title contender in the Premier League, and his ability to bring the best out of his players has turned White Hart Lane into one of the most exciting places to watch a match in Europe.
Under his watch, players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli have grown into superstars, and the club’s recent push up the table has helped them extend the contracts of seemingly every key player over the last six months.
Just like Sampaoli, Pochettino favors a more attacking, fast-paced playing style, but at times, his defense can look a little exposed. While he has found success domestically, Pochettino is still yet to find anything resembling success in Europe.
On top of those negatives, Barcelona would likely be forced to pay a hefty fee for Pochettino’s services. The 45-year-old signed a contract extension last year that tied him to the club until 2021. After that extension, he told reporters, “We want to be here to be a part of what I believe will be special period in the club’s history.” So even if Barcelona want him to takeover, it’s unclear if he would have enough of an interest to actually leave White Hart Lane.