Football: Luis Enrique says needed to 'disconnect' from Barca's constant pressures

Enrique laughs during a press conference on March 3, 2017.
Enrique laughs during a press conference on March 3, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

BARCELONA (REUTERS) - The crushing weight of expectation that comes with managing Barcelona eventually proved too much for Luis Enrique, who said on Friday (March 3) he felt a sense of relief after announcing his plans to walk away at the end of the season.

"It's evident that there are some clubs with a bigger impact than others. I am switched on for too many hours of the day and I need to disconnect," Enrique told a news conference ahead of Barca's La Liga game with Celta Vigo.

"This is a unique profession in which you have to take decisions constantly, it's something every coach has to accept. Some coaches can handle it and can stay in their jobs for a very long time and be happy but that's not the case with me."

The coach, who has won eight out of 10 trophies since taking charge in 2014, echoed the words of current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who also quit Barca after a trohpy-laden era in 2012, declaring: "I'm empty and I need to fill up."

Enrique had previously said he would decide his future at the end of the season but explained a weight had been lifted off his shoulders in announcing his departure on Wednesday, saying he felt "elated" about his final few months in the job.

"I haven't lost any strength in the last four days and in one sense I feel a little relieved but focused on the objectives we set for ourselves at the start of the season," he added.

Barca are one point clear at the top of the standings and with fixtures against title rivals Real Madrid and Sevilla to come their hopes of lifting a third La Liga crown under the coach are in their own hands.

The Catalans have also reached the final of the King's Cup although their chances of remaining in the Champions League hang in the balance after losing their last 16 first leg game to Paris St Germain 4-0, with the second leg coming up next Wednesday.

Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde is reported to be the number one choice to take over at Barca next season with Sevilla's Jorge Sampaoli also in the running.

Enrique said he would have no say in picking his successor.