Barcelona’s next manager: Who could replace Luis Enrique?

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The 46-year-old Blaugrana manager is to step down at the end of the season, and there are four candidates the Catalan giants could consider, writes Sam May.

There is an identity – mes que un club – to be upheld that encompasses a range of ideals, from the team’s on-pitch style of play to its off-pitch status as a global symbol of Catalan culture.

Who could fill the Camp Nou hot seat?

 

Ernesto Valverde

The 53-year-old Athletic Bilbao coach could be the perfect replacement for the outgoing Enrique. He has a good knowledge of the club and the culture. Valverde spent two seasons with the La Liga giants as player, making 22 appearances so he understands the model and has the education to be able to lead the Blaugrana.

He has guided Bilbao to fourth, seventh and fifth in his three seasons at the club and his team currently sits in seventh place this year. He also took the San Mamés side to the Copa del Rey final in his second season in charge. It’s his use of Basque players which has been most effective with the likes of Ander Herrera moving to Manchester United. His biggest achievement was winning the Greek Super League with Olympiakos three times as a manager.

Barcelona have a significant emphasis on the development of academy players and Valverde is the man to continue this. He has nurtured the likes of defender Aymeric Laporte, Mikel San Jose and Iñaki Williams into first-team stars. If being appointed, it could prove a huge task to step up and manage a club as big as Barcelona, but there is no doubt he would fit the bill at the Camp Nou.

 

Mauricio Pochettino

The Tottenham head coach has emerged as one of the favourites to takeover the reigns at the Camp Nou. His style of football would be something, which would be embraced by the Barcelona fans. Having caught the eye of Barca chiefs, they could persuade him to make the move to Catalonia.

However, any potential move would mean a return to La Liga for Pochettino, who was Espanyol boss between 2009 and 2012, before moving to England to take over the reins at Southampton – where he spent a year-and-a-half. So moving back to Spain to join his former clubs rivals wouldn’t be a wise move. The former Paris Saint-Germain defender took over at White Hart Lane in May 2014 on a five-year deal. The 44-year-old only agreed to an extension on his contract in May 2016 to commit his future to Spurs, so moving away would be very unlikely.

 

Jorge Sampaoli

A popular a choice amongst most fans, the 56-year-old former Chile manager is doing a fantastic job at Sevilla who currently sit third in La Liga. The fiery and intense manager also has a Copa America under his belt. There is no doubt Sampaoli would fit Barcelona’s style of play due to his fast moving and pressing game he has adopted from the Marcelo Bielsa school, who influenced the likes of Pep Guardiola.

President Josep Maria Bartomeu met Sampaoli in the summer although it was an informal meeting and the job was not discussed, while the Argentine coach has been present in the presidential box at Camp Nou in the past, attending the Clasico in April – it seems the Barca board may prefer Sampaoli over other candidates.

 

Ronald Koeman

Everton manager has been linked with job because he is an ex-player rather than the fact he could fit their style. Koeman was part of Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team and spent a trophy-laden six years at the Camp Nou. As a manager he has won three Eredivisie titles, had a good spell at Southampton, and is about to record a good debut season with Everton.

Koeman likes his team to keep the ball and fight to win it back. The 53-year-old is known for giving youth a chance, so if he took the reigns he would mostly improve the current crop of players in the academy and promote a couple to the first-team. If Koeman does depart the Toffees, then former Inter Milan coach Frank De Boer who is currently out of work, could head to Merseyside as his replacement. It’s unlikely the former Southampton manager will swap Goodison Park for the Camp Nou. He contact with Everton runs until 2019.

Who do you think will be appointed the next Barcelona manager?

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