Luis Enrique has been a huge success in his little over a year and a half with Barcelona. However, the Blaugrana don’t typically keep managers for more than four years. And while that is not too soon, the Asturian’s contract expires after next season. Here, we look at potential replacements for Lucho in the next few years.
When Barca hired Enrique in 2014, Roberto Martinez was the second choice. He seems an obvious candidate for the job as he is Catalan and favors an aggressive, attacking style of football. Although he hasn’t enjoyed much success with Everton since guiding them to 5th place in the Premier League in the 2013-14 season, he is still undoubtedly a talented coach. This writer had the pleasure of meeting Martinez at the 2015 BlazerCon in Brooklyn, and can confirm that the Catalan is a warm, affable human being. Having nurtured young players at Everton like John Stones and Romelu Lukaku, as well as former Barca man Gerard Deulofeu into mature and talented footballers, the Barca board would feel that La Masia is in safe hands.
The current Ajax manager and former Barca player fits the mould of a Barca coach perfectly: young, attack-minded and ambitious. Having played for the Blaugrana from 1999-2003, the Dutchman clearly knows about the club and what it stands for. He would also be aided by Barca’s history with Ajax and the Netherlands, and would be seen as a new Johan Cruyff in some ways. Having won 4 Eredivisie’s in 5 full seasons with the Dutch giants, de Boer is no stranger to success.
Another Dutchman who used to play for Barca, Koeman would be a great candidate to lead the Catalan giants. Koeman will always have a place in Cules’ hearts, having scored a magnificent free kick in 1992 to win Barca their first European Cup. The Southampton manager plays an attractive, attacking style of football which would be sure to thrill the Camp Nou faithful. In his first season in charge of the Saints, he led them to 6th place, despite being tipped for relegation at the beginning of the season. This season, with 12 matches still to play, Southampton in is 6th place, 7 points off the top four. Although a top-four finish seems extremely unlikely, Koeman has taken the club incredibly far. However, that is the problem. There is not much further the Dutchman can take Southampton. That is why an ambitious move to Barcelona is just what he needs.
A Barcelona legend, Xavi could potentially be the next Pep Guardiola. All Cules want to see the Catalan manage his boyhood club one day, and this could happen soon. Having spent 24 years with the Blaugrana, the midfielder knows the club better than anyone. Xavi has already spoken of his desire to manage the Catalan giants one day, and probably only with a year or two left of his playing career with Al-Sadd in Qatar, he will be available soon. He clearly has the tactical mind to play the Barca way, and will command respect from all his players due to his iconic status.