Messi Force Enrique To Bow Out

With the looming exit of Barcelona from the UEFA Champions following their 4-0 trashing by Paris St Germain in the first leg a fortnight ago, things are changing fast in the club with the eminent exit of Coach Luis Enrique.

He has however played it down by deciding to take an honorable exit it after seeing the handwriting on the wall. Star player, Lionel Messi is said to have pressured the club owners to offload Coach Enrique, considered to be lacking in technical depth expected  at crucial moments. Messi is said to prefer Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli to succeed Enrique.

Criticism had trailed the poor performance of the team in Paris, blaming the disaster on a purposeless midfield and what analysts call the shrinking of the size and stature of the team since he took over the seat despite winning a treble two seasons ago and two local ones last season.

He says he is steeping down because he needs to “rest“.

46-year-old Enrique disclosed his next move after Barca’s 6-1 win over Sporting Gijon.

He said: “I think it will be good for me at the end of the season, because I need to rest. That’s the principle motive.

“The most important thing is we have three exciting months left in all three competitions. In one of them, we are in a difficult situation but if the stars align, we will have a chance to turn it around.”

Barca’s win over Sporting took them to the top of La Liga, one point clear of Real Madrid, who has a game in hand. They face Alaves in the Copa del Rey final on 27 May.

Enrique was a former Spain midfielder who played for Barcelona between 1996 and his retirement from playing in 2004.

He then coached their B team from 2008 to 2011, returning to the club as first-team boss after spells managing Roma and Celta Vigo.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said: “Luis Enrique has brought us great success and he can still bring us more. The players are motivated to do it.

“We accept Luis Enrique’s decision. He has been a great coach. Now it is time to end his spell in the best possible way.”