Spanish journalist listed as candidate to take over as Barcelona manager following Luis Enrique resignation

By Alex McLeod

Departing Barcelona manager Luis Enrique looks on during his side's clash against PSG in their Champions League Round of 16 match in Paris last month. Photo / Getty Images.
Departing Barcelona manager Luis Enrique looks on during his side's clash against PSG in their Champions League Round of 16 match in Paris last month. Photo / Getty Images.

Following Barcelona's 6-1 demolition of La Liga relegation candidates Sporting Gijon at Camp Nou this morning (NZT), Luis Enrique announced he will step down as manager of the Spanish champions after three years in charge of the Catalan side.

The 46-year-old - who has won eight titles since he became manager of the club in 2014, including two La Liga's, two Copa del Rey's, a Champions League title and a FIFA Club World Cup since 2014 - stated that he needs rest following his hugely successful spell, which has also seen him win FIFA World Coach of the Year in 2015.

"I need to rest," Enrique told the post-match news conference.

"I won't be the coach of Barcelona next season. It was a very difficult decision for me, very well-thought out. The reason clearly had to do with the way of life I need to have in this profession, constantly having to find solutions, constantly trying to improve my team.

"That means very little time to rest, very little time to disconnect. After this season it will be good for me to get some rest."

The shock resignation of the former Spanish international has sparked a flurry of activity amongst betting agencies across Europe, with many beginning to offer odds on who will take over the managerial reigns of the five-time European champions.

One of these betting agencies, Irish-based Paddy Power, has released an extensive list of potential cadidates to become the next head coach of Barcelona, with current Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli the leading candidate, with odds of 3/1 to become Barça's next head honcho.

There is a vast range of other managers and former players that have been listed as potential candidates for the job, varying from increasingly unpopular Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (5/1), to Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez (20/1), while even former Manchester United flop David Moyes (100/1) gets a mention.

Perhaps an even more surprising name to have been included in the list, however, is Guillem Balagué, with the football journalist - who covers Spanish football for Sky Sports UK as well as having authored books on the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola - being listed as a 500/1 outsider to land the top job in the Mediterranean city.

Guillem Balagué (bottom right) listed as a 500/1 outsider to claim the role of Barcelona manager. Photo / Paddy Power.
Guillem Balagué (bottom right) listed as a 500/1 outsider to claim the role of Barcelona manager. Photo / Paddy Power.

Despite the tempting idea of winning $5000 off a $10 bet on Balagué becoming manager of one of the most successful clubs on the planet, the immense unlikelihood of that actually happening means the Spaniard will more than likely stay on as a journalist for Sky Sports, while any ambitious punter contemplating placing a bet will probably be $10 poorer at the conclusion of Barcelona's next manager announcement press conference.

- NZ Herald

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