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

When Luis Enrique announces his Spain squad for the World Cup on Friday, the world of football will prepare for it. This teflon tough, single-minded man likes to defy people’s expectations and lives to frustrate his many enemies. We are talking about a person who is strengthened by criticism and conflict like the cartoon character Popeye grew muscles after ingesting a can of spinach.

So when the Spanish coach reads out the 26 names selected, everyone will be on the edge of their seats as to whether the brilliant but injured Ansu Fati, who has been relegated from the last group, will go to Qatar , could Spain coach and 36-year-old defender Sergio Ramos have reconciled, and will he anger Real Sociedad by taking the risk of signing Mikel Oyarzabal even though the player has not played since March?

But there will be another frisson altogether, which should interest you if you are interested in the future of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, ​​PSG, Manchester City, Liverpool or any of the top European clubs. think first. Because this could be the last Spanish team that “Lucho” counts.

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It depends on how well he has done while in charge La Roja – the semifinalists in Euro 2020, the finals in the 2021 Nations League, and also in the last four of the 2023 Nations League semifinal next June – and with limited resources, there will be fans and spectators of Many around Spain hope that this is not the case. the beginning of expansion adios. But the fact remains that the talented, driven and aggressive 52-year-old is out of contract with the Spanish FA at the end of the World Cup.

All attempts to renew his contract have, so far, been denied. At the moment, the Spanish football drums are beating the word that Atleti are very tempted to try to cope with the decline of Diego Simeone’s reign by asking Luis Enrique if he wishes to return to football when complete his work in Qatar.

It all came a few days ago, when the former manager of Real Madrid, Valencia and the national team Santiago Canizares said on the radio: “Maybe the best thing for ‘Cholo’. [Simeone] and Atletico so that their paths diverge — so that they do not waver. They haven’t played good football in a few seasons. One name comes to mind, with the Atleti player, and that is Luis Enrique. “

Also, I know someone who won LaLiga, won the European Cup with a great Barca player who believes that if Luis Enrique looks like he is about to return to football, then Barcelona president Joan Laporta will they have a big problem whether to watch such a game. The famous player and coach of the Camp Nou strengthens one of his enemies, or whether he should strike first by hiring him again.

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The point at the moment is that the Spanish coach is enjoying a very healthy life: quality time with family in his Mediterranean village, the ability to pursue his goal of staying fit, slim, fit and competitive, balanced with the explosiveness of football. that allow him to throw all his energy into the project without the daily, weekly, monthly wear and tear that all top club coaches suffer.

However, his Spain team – heavily reliant on Barcelona’s prolific and under-pressure Gavi, Sergio Busquets and Pedri – play against Costa Rica, Germany and Japan in the group stage in Qatar, the fact is that there is a “very good security. net” chance to win the trophy once in June against Croatia, Italy or the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League next year.

It’s easy to imagine Luis Enrique renewing his contract until then or later, but he named the clubs he would be allowed to leave without compensation if they offered him the chance to take over as coach. What could this mean? In other words, every club interested in his services, either immediately or for the 2023-2024 season, needs to compete for positions now.

The final words on the matter, from the president of the Spanish FA, Luis Rubiales, were not encouraging. It looked as if he was preparing to impose his will – or commitment – on the situation as he did with Julen Lopetegui days before Spain’s start in Russia during the 2018 World Cup.

Rubiales told the radio show that: “[Luis Enrique] it may or may not last. And that can be because of his decision or ours [the FA] decision. That is part of football and he would understand if it was our decision, just as we would understand if it was his decision. “

Now, I’m not an agent or a career lawyer, but Rubiales’ words seem far from “we want him to stay, it’s important that he knows how important he is to us…we’ll find a way to convince him. to stay…”

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Pep Guardiola is likely to be preparing for an explosive, long trip to Manchester City as he now realizes that he is about to enjoy a second “Messi-esque” experience with Erling Haaland.

Although Lionel Messi and Haaland don’t have the same physicality and different styles of play, what binds them is their uncanny ability to take players away from them. Why wouldn’t you want to ride that wave for a few more successful seasons? However, if Guardiola wishes to fulfill one of his dreams, to coach Brazil (or England) to the World Cup in 2026, there is no better person to take over his main job and he expands more than Luis Enrique.

The attitude, the attitude, the philosophy of football, as well as the unerring determination to encourage and trust talent regardless of age: there are many things that connect Guardiola and Luis Enrique, who were colleagues also from Barca.

Who knows who will buy Liverpool, how soon, or how Jurgen Klopp feels about a possible change of guard? But with Klopp finally opting to take a much-discussed sabbatical with his wife, Ulla, Luis Enrique will be an attractive candidate there too.

Coaching in Spain has been an important part of his recovery from a family tragedy because even after he and his family mourned the loss of his daughter, Xana, in 2019, the desire to return to use his talent again and the power of the volcano was there. impossible to ignore. It’s an undisputed fact: he’s a very good coach, very smart in his work, forward-thinking and someone who tries hard to find small areas of improvement in order to play an exciting kind of football .

In the past he told me: “For my training the most important concept is ‘to attack.’ When my staff and I select any team, we first look at what our players can offer in attack. The idea is ‘pressure.’ My teams attack very clearly, well positioned so that when we lose the ball, we can press the opponent and win it back.

“The third important concept is ‘desire.’ By that I mean that my team plays the same way as whoever they face, wherever, regardless of the score. game to the opponents and decide the game.”

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If he reads this, he will be pissed off. None of this he wants to stop Spain from punching (probably above) their weight in Qatar next month, which brings us back to his team announcement.

It’s been a year since some of the Madrid press mocked the inclusion of 17-year-old Gavi in ​​the League One team to face European champions Italy. I heard some journalists talking, after the manager’s press conference, and they believed that the Spanish coach was talking about choosing a kid with very few games in the first team of Barcelona in reason to oppose and provoke the “anti-Lucho” media.

They were wrong, and rightly so. Currently, Gavi has 12 national team caps and is a central part of Spain’s World Cup campaign. Can there be anything like it this time?

Now it’s Ramos. There was a time when the former Madrid captain became obsessed with statistics, collecting more than 180 caps and his international undefeated record. Luis Enrique thought the world of Ramos as a defender, as a captain, as a professional footballer. Guys like those two don’t make “love-ins,” but this was the next best thing.

Ramos told Luis Enrique ahead of the World Cup match against Kosovo in March 2021 that he was fit and ready to be part of the team. He played the last four minutes of the 3-1 win, returning to his team injured, missing several weeks for Madrid and Luis Enrique feeling like he had pulled the wool over his eyes; the defender has not appeared in Spain since then.

He is now healthy and playing well for PSG La Roja there are many left-footed people, but not right-footed ones. Ahead of PSG’s upcoming Champions League clash with Juventus, Ramos admitted “everyone knows how much playing for my country means to me: I feel healthy, but it’s up to the manager.”

Does Luis Enrique forgive Ramos, remember him, and reinstate him as captain? It’s a big line, and it needs to be right: there is no gray area with two men of such amazing characters.

Keep your eyes on this story. At Euro 2020, Spain scored five points twice, conceded the goal of the tournament, won a surprise penalty and lost one. In the last League of Nations they defeated the European champions and scored a goal for the world champions. Luis Enrique has never been, and never will be, without controversy, power or entertainment. His players respect him and are very committed which means that if this tournament is his last with Spain, then, win, lose or draw, it will be on fire.

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