Why Spain’s Luis Enrique will be in demand post-World Cup

When Luis Enrique announces Spain’s World Cup squad on Friday, the football world will be in for a treat. This Teflon-tough, single-minded man likes to defy people’s expectations and lives to avoid his many enemies. We’re talking about someone who gains strength from criticism and controversy, like the cartoon character Popeye who grew muscles after eating a can of spinach.

So when the Spanish coach calls out the 26 names selected, everyone will be on the edge of their seat whether Ansu Fati, who was left out of the last squad, will travel to Qatar, whether the Spanish coach and the 36-year-old. Aged defender Sergio Ramos has reconciled and will he anger Real Sociedad by risking a move for Mikel Oyarzabal, despite the striker not having played since March?

But in general there will be another frisson that you should be interested in if you are interested in the future of Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, ​​PSG, Manchester City, Liverpool or any of the leading elite clubs in Europe. Because this could easily be the last Spanish team called “Lucho”.

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Considering how great he has been in charge La Roja — Euro 2020 semi-finalists, Nations League 2021 finalists, again in the final four of the 2023 Nations League semi-finals next June — and with relatively limited resources, there will be plenty of fans and observers across Spain, which not so. wide opening adios. But the fact remains that the talented, talented and angry 52-year-old will be out of contract with the Spanish FA after the World Cup.

All attempts to extend his deal have so far been rejected. Already, the Spanish football drums are beating the message that Atleti are very tempted to fight back in the decline of Diego Simeone’s regime, asking Luis Enrique if he dreams of a return to club football after his stint in Qatar.

It all started a few days ago when former Real Madrid, Valencia and national team goalkeeper Santiago Canizares said on the radio: “Maybe the best thing for Cholo”. [Simeone] and Atlético is for them to part ways – not to stagnate. They did not play good football for several seasons. One name comes to mind with the quality of managing Atleti and that is Luis Enrique.”

Also, I know a LaLiga and European Cup finalist with great Barca experience who believes that if Luis Enrique is on the verge of a return to club football, then Barcelona president Joan Laporta will have a serious problem watching such games. . Camp Nou standout player and coach reinforces one of his nemesis or should he strike first rather than re-hire him.

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Controversy at the moment is that the Spanish coach enjoys a very interesting lifestyle: quality time with family in a Mediterranean village, the ability to follow his almost obsessive drive to be fit, lean, healthy and competitive, balanced with the intense bursts of football that it allows him to put all his energy into a project without the daily, weekly and monthly wear and tear that all top club coaches suffer from.

However, Spain’s squad – dependent on an overstretched and under-pressure Barcelona midfield of Gavi, Sergio Busquets and Pedri – will feature in Qatar’s group stage against Costa Rica, Germany and Japan, the evidence being that a ” There is a very interesting security. net” a chance to win the trophy as soon as possible against Croatia, Italy or hosts the Netherlands in next year’s UEFA Nations League.

It’s easy to imagine Luis Enrique extending his contract by that time or longer, but to list the clubs he would be allowed to leave without compensation if they offered him the chance to take over as a coach. What could this mean? Simply put, any club interested in his services, either immediately or for the 2023-24 season, should be pushing for a position right now.

The latest words on the matter from Spanish football president Luis Rubiales were far from encouraging. It felt as if he was preparing for the situation or imposing himself, just as he did with Julen Lopetegui a few days before Spain’s 2018 World Cup kicked off in Russia.

Rubiales said on a radio show:[Luis Enrique] he could stay in it or not. And it can be his decision or ours [the FA] the decision It’s part of football and he understands if it’s our decision, just as we understand if it’s his decision.”

Now, I’m neither an agent nor an employment lawyer, but Rubiales’ words seem far from “we want him to stay, he knows how important he is to us…we’ll find a way to convince him. to stand…”

Pep Guardiola is likely now preparing for an explosive and long journey at Manchester City as he realizes he is enjoying a second ‘Messi-like’ experience thanks to Erling Haaland.

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Although Lionel Messi and Holland have no physical similarities and completely different playing styles, what unites them is their extraordinary ability to take games away from opponents. Why wouldn’t you want to ride this wave for a few more successful seasons? However, if Guardiola wants to make one of his dreams come true, to lead Brazil (or even England) to the World Cup in 2026, there is no better candidate to take over his starting job and extend it than Luis Enrique. .

The attitude, the mentality, the philosophy of football, as well as the unwavering willingness to promote and trust in talent, regardless of age: there are many things that connect Guardiola and Luis Enrique, former Barca teammates.

Who knows who will buy Liverpool, how soon, or how Jurgen Klopp feels about a potential changing of the guard? But when Klopp finally chooses to take his much-discussed sabbatical and travel the world with his wife Ulla, Luis Enrique will be another attractive candidate.

Coaching in Spain was an important part of his recovery from family grief, as even after he and his family mourned the loss of his daughter Hana in 2019, he was motivated to return to apply his talent and volcanic energy again. cannot be ignored. This is a solid fact: he is an extremely good coach, extremely intelligent in his profession, a visionary and someone who works tirelessly to create an exciting brand of football.

He told me in the past: “For me as a coach, the most important idea is ‘attack’. When me and my staff select a team, we first see what our players can offer in attack. The concept is ‘pressure’ My teams attack in a very specific way, well positioned, so that when we lose the ball, we can put pressure on the opponent and win it back.

“The third important idea is ‘ambition’. By this I mean that my team plays with the same attitude no matter who they are facing, no matter where they are, no matter the score. “We attack and defend the same in every game. So now I have an attacking philosophy that takes risks and asks players to go out. Take the game to the opponents and be decisive in the game.”

If he reads this, he will be furious. None of this is the subject of him wanting to punch (probably above) his weight in Spain in the next month or so in Qatar, which brings us back to his squad announcement.

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It’s been a year since some in the Madrid press openly mocked the inclusion of 17-year-old Gavi in ​​the League of Nations squad to face the European champions, Italy. I overheard some journalists talking after the manager’s press conference and they basically believed that the Spanish coach was talking about picking a kid who doesn’t play very much in the Barcelona team, opposing and inciting the “anti-Lucho” media.

They were wrong and so were the savages. Gavi now has 12 caps and has been a central part of Spain’s World Cup campaign. Is it possible that there will be something like the equivalent this time?

Then there is Ramos. There was a time when the former Madrid captain became a little obsessed with statistics, achieving more than 180 caps and the number of unbeaten international matches. Luis Enrique thought the world of Ramos as a defender, captain and professional footballer. Guys don’t make “love” like these two, but it was the next best thing.

Ramos has told Luis Enrique ahead of a World Cup qualifier against Kosovo in March 2021 that he is fit and ready to play. He played the last four minutes of a 3-1 win, returned to his club injured, missed several weeks in Madrid and Luis Enrique felt as if he had pulled the wool over his eyes; The defender has not played for Spain since then.

Now he is playing well in PSG La Roja have more left-footed central defenders but don’t need a right-footed partner. Ahead of PSG’s upcoming Champions League clash with Juventus, Ramos admitted that “everyone knows how important it is for me to play in my country: I feel good but it depends on the coach is.”

Will Luis Enrique pardon Ramos, recall him and even make him captain? It’s a huge call, and it’s a call that needs to be right: there’s no gray area with two men with such extreme personalities.

Keep your eyes peeled for this story. At Euro 2020, Spain scored five goals twice, lost on own goals, won on penalties and lost once. In the last League of Nations, they defeated the European champions and shook the cage of the world champions. Luis Enrique has never been without controversy, tension or fun. His players respect him and are so committed that if this is his last tournament with Spain, win, lose or draw, it will be fiery.


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