Jorge Sampaoli is the leading contender to replace Luis Enrique at Barcelona, while Ronald Koeman is also on their shortlist
According to the Telegraph, Sampaoli has been singled out as the man to take over from Luis Enrique, who is under massive pressure following Barcelona’s 4-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.
Sampaoli was interviewed by Chelsea last year, but eventually lost out on the job to Antonio Conte, something he claims was down to his lack of command over English. He was eventually appointed manager of Sevilla after Unai Emery departed for PSG.
The former Chile manager has since impressed in Spain and has been the driving force behind Sevilla’s fine form this season. They are currently sitting in 3rd place in the La Liga standings, 2 points behind second-placed Barcelona and 3 points behind league leaders Real Madrid, who have two games in hand.
Sampaoli rose to prominence after he led the Chilean national team to their first Copa America title after beating Argentina in the final in 2015. He has also been earning admirers after inculcating a pressing, attacking style with Sevilla that has no doubt impressed the Barcelona hierarchy.
According to the Mirror, however, Everton boss Ronald Koeman is also on Barcelona’s radar as they look for potential replacements. The Dutchman spent 6 successful years with Barcelona as a player, winning four La Liga titles with the Catalans.
He is fondly remembered at the club and even worked as their assistant manager from 1998-2000 under his compatriot and former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman has strong ties to the club and given how he has impressed in England, it is no surprise to see him linked with the Barcelona job.
Koeman’s emotional bond with the club is well documented and he has already said in the past that he would like to manage Barcelona one day, although the Mirror state that he has always been reluctant to leave a club after just one season in charge.
He has managed to keep Everton in the fight for a top 6 position this season and given the fact that new owner Farhad Moshiri has publicly stated that he will back Koeman with funds in the summer, the Dutchman may be tempted to stay on and build his side into title contenders.
The lure of Barcelona is a hard one to resist, however, and should they come knocking at either Koeman or Sampaoli’s doors, it is hard to see them turning the Catalans down. Either way, it does appear that Luis Enrique – who is out of contract in the summer – is on his way out of the club.