Enrique may take time off, emulating Guardiola

Barcelona's coach Luis Enrique looks on before the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona vs Valencia CF.
Barcelona's coach Luis Enrique looks on before the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona vs Valencia CF. PHOTO: AFP

BARCELONA • Barcelona coach Luis Enrique hinted that he will follow Pep Guardiola's lead by taking a sabbatical rather than seeking a new job when he steps down at the end of the season.

He announced last month he will not renew his contract at the Camp Nou despite winning eight trophies in his three-year reign, and with the possibility of adding three more in La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey in his final months in charge.

"If I am leaving Barca, which is my home, and with a great relationship with the club, my players and more, it is not to go to another team," the 46-year-old said yesterday ahead of his side's clash with Sevilla today.

"I have been clear that it is simply due to fatigue and the need to rest. Where am I going to go that is better than here?"

Manchester City manager Guardiola also took a year out following his glorious four-year spell in charge between 2008 and 2012, citing fatigue before taking over at Bayern Munich.

Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli is among those tipped to replace the Spaniard. He has a final shot to further his case today and land his dream job.

He looked to be at the head of the queue over a month ago. However, since then Sevilla have been knocked out of the Champions League by Leicester and tumbled out of contention for the Primera Liga title with Atletico Madrid passing them into third place.

If given the chance though, he would love to coach fellow Argentinian Lionel Messi and Barca's host of other stars next season.

"I want to manage Messi to be able to watch him from the sideline every day," he told Argentinian newspaper Ole last week. "It is a unique dream to be able to see the best in the world up close."

Barca, however, look set to go in another direction with Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde and Enrique's assistant Juan Carlos Unzue emerging as the favourites to take over next season.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Enrique may take time off, emulating Guardiola'. Print Edition | Subscribe