Five names in the frame to replace Luis Enrique at Barcelonaby Jack Kitson / 02 March 2017, 12:03Tweet
Luis Enrique has decided to step down from his job at Barcelona in the summer and one things for sure: there will be no shortage of gaffers eager to replace the Spaniard in the Nou Camp dugout.
Enrique hoisted a very impressive seven trophies in his first two seasons with Barcelona, plus the Spanish Super Cup last summer, while he could potentially add three additional cups to that sizeable collection before he departs, although the Champions League is likely to be out of reach following a 4-0 first-leg thrashing at the hands of PSG.
A flurry of gaffers have already been linked with the Catalan club, a handful of whom he take a look at below.
Jorge Sampaoli has grabbed all the headlines in Spain since storming over to Sevilla in the summer. The fiery former Chile boss has so far worked wonders with Sevillistas, who are currently challenging for a La Liga and Champions League double.
It’s no surprise to see the Argentine tops the early betting to become the next Barcelona manager at a best-priced 3/1 with Paddy Power. The 56-year-old’s tactics and philosophy have caught the eye, as has his pulsating personality, while he’s a mesmerizing presence on the touchline during matches.
Second in-line is the former Barcelona striker Ernesto Valverde. Valverde scored eight goals in 22 games at Barca between 1988 and 1990 - winning the Copa del Rey and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup - before going on to play 170 matches for Athletic Bilbao, with whom he’s managed since 2013 and lifted the Spanish Super Cup with in 2015.
As a manager Valverde has taken charge of a number of clubs in Spain, while he’s also had two spells at Greek giants Olympiakos, with whom he led to three league titles and two domestic cups.
Valderde’s attack-minded philosophy makes in an attractive option to return to Barcelona as a manager, with Paddy Power currently offering odds of 5/1 for this outcome to occur.
Ronald Koeman is a legend at Barcelona. As a player the Dutchman spent six years at the Nou Camp in the club’s famous “Dream Team”, winning four La Liga titles, the European Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and a brace of domestic trophies.
Koeman returned to Barcelona as an assistant in the late 1990s, before going on to manage the likes of Ajax, Benfica, Valencia, Feyenoord, Southampton, and currently Everton.
Whether Koeman’s legendary status at the club is enough to bag him the job (8/1) is debatable - he hasn’t won a major trophy since 2008 - but he would no doubt jump at the chance to return to his old stomping ground in the summer, however Barca would have to splash the cash (compensation) in order to bring back their former defender.
A long shot, but not completely out of the question.
Antonio Conte lifted a hat-trick of Serie A titles with Juventus, and is currently on course to hoist the Premier League with Chelsea. If the Blues, as expected, finish top of the tree the popular Italian could be tempted to venture off to Spain in a bid to triumph in a third country in five years, which would be some achievement.
Conte, a 40/1 long shot with Paddy Power, is unlikely to leave his post at Stamford Bridge. The Chelsea fans love him and you can envision him in the Blues dugout for many years, although he’ll be wary that Carlo Ancelotti won the league and cup double in his first season with Chelsea, only to be savagely sacked the following season.
Juan Carlos Unzue
Barcelona have been known to appoint a manager from within, and that could well prove to be the case with the club’s current assistant boss Juan Carlos Unzue (33/1 Bet365). Unzue knows the Spanish giants inside and out, which puts him in a strong position, although he could very well move on with Enrique in the summer.
One potential stumbling block is Unzue’s lack of experience as an actual manager, although it’s worth remembering that thus was also the case with Tito Vilanova following Pep Guardiola’s departure back in 2012.