Search for Next Barcelona Manager Intensifies as Enrique Approaches Finale

Barcelona’s motto ‘Mes que un club,’ which translates into ‘More than a club’, is certainly apt when it comes to the managerial appointment. Barcelona simply do not go out and bring a manager at the top of his game like every other club.

A person who is in charge of the team and several other key aspects of the club will have to fit into the ethos. He has to play a certain style of football, and he must be aware of the club’s heritage and what they stand for. These requirements certainly make it tough for Barcelona to find a new manager.

The club are in the market for a new manager after Luis Enrique announced his decision to step down at the end of the campaign. The respected former Barcelona captain couldn’t bring the La Liga title to the Camp Nou but the Copa Del Rey final against Alaves offers the chance of glory.

The Spanish Cup is that rarest of tournaments in football; unsponsored. The RFEF is reportedly considering marketing the Copa Del Rey and is looking at brands with a strong association in football.

This is likely to favour Spanish multinationals such as Telefonica and Santander but may be of interest to global brands such as Emirates Airlines and Mansion Group, the owner of successful casino brands like Casino.com. These are companies with a strong history of sponsorship in the sport, primarily in England but across Europe as well.

Perhaps Barcelona will be the last club to win the pristine Copa; maybe the RFEF will decide against sponsors. In any case, that is a decision for another day; more important to the Blaugrana is the search for Luis Enrique’s replacement is already in full swing.

Here are the top three contenders as the next Barcelona manager:

Juan Carlos Unzue

The current Barcelona assistant manager is the overwhelming favourite to take over next season. Part of the reason could be the lack of availability of a big name manager with Barcelona connections. Unzue is largely helped by his experience and knowledge of working under Enrique, over the last three seasons, as an assistant manager. In many ways, bringing in the 50-year-old would replicate the move to bring in Tito Vilanova as a replacement for the immensely successful Pep Guardiola. Unzue’s appointment will bring stability and continuity to the club.

Ernesto Valverde

The Athletic Bilbao coach played alongside Barcelona’s technical secretary Robert Fernandez, who is expected to have a big say in the appointment of the next coach. Athletic Bilbao are in the sixth spot of the La Liga and are looking likely to qualify for the Europa League. One of the biggest hindrances towards the appointment of Valverde may be his lack of managerial experience at the top level.

Jorge Sampaoli and Ronald Koeman have also been in the frame, but they appear to have dropped out of the running over the last few weeks. The appointment is expected to be confirmed by Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu after the Copa del Rey final, which takes place on May 27.

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