Following one of their worst seasons in recent years, Barcelona have turned over a new chapter after confirming Luis Enrique’s appointment as their new manager.
Despite being given a golden chance to win the Spanish La Liga in the dying stages of the league, Barcelona could not beat Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou resulting in a barren year for Tata Martino led Barcelona. The Argentine was quick to announce his departure and the Catalans have confirmed the former Real Madrid and Barcelona player, Luis Enrique, as his replacement.
“The FC Barcelona board of directors have this evening confirmed Luis Enrique Martineza as the new first-team coach, following a proposal from sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta. Luis Enrique, 44, will sign a two-year deal.”
Enrique will be taking over the reins at Camp Nou during a transitional period as the club draws the curtains on what has been a glorious era for the Catalans. Having led Celta Vigo to a 9th place finish in the Spanish La Liga this season, Enrique will be tasked to motivate Barcelona back to their usual standards. The club is set to go through a transitional period and is reported to be keen to off-load some players in order to usher in a new era. Cesc Fabregas is reportedly available on the market while Sanchez too seems to be on his way out of Camp Nou. Dani Alves and Mascherano too have hinted their displeasure with the club and could be looking for a new challenge at a new club. Clubs are also on the look-out for Iniesta and Xavi, who have together formed Barcelona’a back-bone along with Lionel Messi. Hence there is a lot of uncertainty at Barcelona coupled with their fans turning against them this season, resorting to jeering their own players at Camp Nou.
Luis Enrique faces a tough task as he takes over his duties as the manager of Barcelona but will be boosted with the fact that the Catalans can invest in new players come summer. Barcelona have been hit with a string of injuries that saw their performance dwindle in the second half of the season. With Victor Valdes, Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol out with injuries, Barcelona’s defence has been extremely shaky this season and they are being linked with a move for David Luiz in a bid to bolster their back-line. Injuries to Messi and Neymar too costed the Catalans dearly and they were left rudderless with an out-of-form Messi. Enrique will be tasked with the responsibility to rejuvenate a visibly worn-out Messi post the World Cup and also integrate Neymar successfully into the first-team if Barcelona are to regain their lost stature. He will have to make some key signings, beginning with a new goal-keeper as Victor Valdes will be leaving the club this summer. The manager will have to look for a way to retain Dani Alves and Mascherano, both of whom are linked with a move away from Barcelona. With Xavi ageing and Fabregas reported to be on his way out, the new manager will have to sign a midfielder if they are to continue playing with their usual style and flair.
Barcelona are also expected to be in the market for a new striker after having failed to score consistently this season. With Lionel Messi going through a bad run of form, the club is reported to have been interested in Sergio Aguero and Luis Suarez to ease his burden in front of the goal.
Suffice to say that a new manager is the least of their solutions and Barcelona will have to spend the coming summer transfer window wisely if they are to stage a resurrection. Their two transfer-window ban could be evoked in January, hence preventing the club from investing for a whole year and therefore this summer might prove to be their last opportunity to restructure their squad. It looks like the former Barcelona player has his work cut out for him as the manager of the Catalan club. The question that remains is whether he will prove to be capable of leading Barcelona out of troubled waters.