Luis Enrique has announced that he will not return as manager of Celta de Vigo. To most keen observers, that was almost as good as his standing on the steps of the Nou Camp, shouting that he had been appointed manager of Barcelona.
See, we know Barcelona are looking to replace Gerardo Martino. And we already know that Andoni Zubizarreta, Barcelona’s sporting director, paid a visit to Luis Enrique. But the Celta coach had denied that there was a deal in place already, and he continued to do so in the press conference on Friday:
At the moment, I don’t know who I’ll be managing next season. I haven’t reached any agreements with anybody or anything of the sort, although you may find it hard to believe. When I told you it was all speculation, that’s what it was, whether you believed me or not.
Luis Enrique finished his playing career at Barcelona in 2004, after eight seasons at the club. In total he played 400 games in La Liga, scoring 102 goals. After a few years he took up the coaching position at Barcelona B, before leaving for a year’s spell at AS Roma.
His short spell in Italy was not seen as very successful, with Roma failing to get out of Europa League qualifying, and ultimately finishing 7th that season. But Luis Enrique was given a short amount of time in which to implement his system – a system that should already be in place at Barcelona.
He’s been at Celta for just one season, but he’s made great strides with the club. Last year they finished 17th, just a point above the relegation zone. This season they’re in 8th and are coming off a four-game winning streak, the last of which was a 2-0 victory that effectively ended Real Madrid’s chance at the title.