The football world will be ready for it when Luis Enrique announces his Spain squad for the World Cup on Friday. This tough, single-minded man of Teflon loves to challenge expectations and makes a living by thwarting his many enemies. We’re talking about someone who draws strength from criticism and controversy, like the cartoon character Popeye who grows muscles after drinking a can of spinach.
So when the Spanish boss read out the 26 players selected, everyone was wondering whether the talented but injury-riddled Ansu Fati would go to Qatar, whether it was the Spanish coach or the 36-year-old defender Serge Gio Ramos has settled, and although the striker has not played since March, will he risk angering Real Sociedad by taking on Mikel Oyarzabar?
But if you’re interested in the future of Atlético de Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Liverpool or any of the forward-thinking elite European clubs, there’s another battle to come, which should pique your interest. Because this could easily be the last Spanish team that “Lucho” reads.
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Considering his stellar performance during his tenure La Roja – Euro 2020 semi-finalists, 2021 Nations League finalists, again next June for the 2023 UEFA Nations League semi-finals – With relatively limited resources, there will be many fans and Observers hope this is not the start of the expansion goodbyeBut the fact remains that the talented, motivated and motivated 52-year-old is out of contract with the Spanish Football Federation after the World Cup.
So far, all attempts to renew his deal have been rejected. The drums of Spanish football are already beating the message that Atletico are keen to try and deal with Diego Simeone by asking Luis Enrique if he wants to return to club football after his work in Qatar The (Diego Simeone) regime’s declining returns.
It all came to a head a few days ago, when former Real Madrid, Valencia and national team goalkeeper Santiago Canizares said on the radio: “Maybe it’s the best thing for ‘Jolo’. [Simeone] With Atletico Madrid is to separate their paths – so as not to stand still. They haven’t played good football for a few seasons. One name that comes to my mind, the role that handles Atletico, is Luis Enrique. “
Also, I know a European Cup finalist who has won La Liga with Barcelona and thinks that if Luis Enrique seems to be on the verge of a return to club football, then Barcelona president Joan Laporta will be watching such a game into a dilemma. The iconic Camp Nou player and coach has stepped up one of his foes, or whether he should preempt him by rehiring him.
The contrast now is that the Spanish coach enjoys a very attractive lifestyle: spending quality time with his family in his Mediterranean village, pursuing his almost obsessive ability to stay fit, slim, fit and competitive. , balanced with an outburst of intense football that has allowed him to put all his energy into one project without the daily, weekly, monthly wear and tear that all top club coaches suffer from.
However, his Spain team – heavily reliant on the overplayed and underpressured Barcelona midfielders of Garvey, Sergio Busquets and Pedri – excelled in Qatar’s group stages against Costa Rica, Germany and Japan , the fact that there is a very attractive “safety net” there is a chance to win a trophy in the UEFA Nations League next June against Croatia, Italy or host Netherlands.
It’s easy to imagine Luis Enrique renewing before that or more, but if they offer him the chance to take over as coach, he’ll be allowed to leave the club for free. What could this possibly mean? In short, any club interested in his services, either immediately or in the 2023-24 season, needs to fight for a spot immediately.
Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales’ last words on the issue were far from encouraging. As he did with Julen Lopetegui just days before Spain kicked off in Russia during the 2018 World Cup, it feels as though he is preparing to impose his will – or his ego – on the situation.
Rubiales said on a radio show:[Luis Enrique] You may or may not continue.It could be because of his decision or ours [the FA] Decide. It’s part of football, if it’s our decision, he’ll understand, just as we’ll understand if it’s his decision. “
Now, I’m neither an attorney nor an employment lawyer, but Rubiales’ words seem far from “we want him to stay, he has to know how much he means to us…we’ll find a way to convince him to stay…” “
Guardiola may well be gearing up for an explosively long ride at Manchester City as he realises he is about to enjoy a second ‘Messi-esque’ experience thanks to Erling Haaland.
While Lionel Messi and Haaland have no physical similarities or radically different playing styles, what binds them together is their supernatural ability to take the game away from their opponents. Why wouldn’t you want to surf that wave for a few super successful seasons? However, if Guardiola wants to fulfill one of his dreams of coaching Brazil (or even England) to a World Cup win in 2026, there is no better man than Luis Enrique to do his bottom line job and extend it.
Attitude, mentality, football philosophy, and a firm willingness to promote and trust talent regardless of age: there are many things that connect Guardiola with former Barca team-mate Luis Enrique.
Who knows who will buy Liverpool, how quickly, or what does Jurgen Klopp think about a potential change in the back? But Luis Enrique will also be an attractive candidate again when Klopp finally chooses to take his controversial sabbatical and travel the world with his wife Ulla.
Coaching in Spain has been an important part of recovering from the most painful family grief, as even after he and his family grieved the loss of their daughter Xana in 2019, the drive to rediscover his talents and volcanic energy has become Can not ignore. It’s a cold fact: he’s a very good coach, very smart and visionary in his career, and he’s relentlessly trying to find little room for improvement in order to play an exciting brand of football.
He told me in the past: “For my coaches, the most important idea is ‘offensive’. When me and my staff pick any team, we first look at what our players can provide on offense What. The concept is ‘pressure’. My team attacked in a very defined way and was in a good position so when we conceded the ball we could put pressure on the opponent and win it back.
“The third key idea is ‘ambition’. I mean my team plays with the same attitude no matter who they face, no matter where they are, no matter what the score is. We play offense and defense in every game. Same. So now I have a risky attacking philosophy that requires players to take responsibility for handing over the game to the opponent and being decisive in the game.”
If he reads this, he’ll be flabbergasted. None of this is talk of him wanting to stop Spain in Qatar next month (probably higher than) their weight in Qatar, which brings us back to his line-up announcement.
It has been a year since some in the Madrid media directly mocked him for including the 17-year-old Garvey in the Nations League squad against European champions Italy. After the manager’s press conference, I heard some reporters talking, and they did think the Spanish coach was talking about picking a kid who played very little in the Barcelona first team and it was all about provoking an “anti-Luccio” ” of the media.
They were wrong, and terribly wrong. Now, Garvey has played 12 times for the national team and is a central part of Spain’s World Cup campaign. Could there be something similar this time?
And then there’s Ramos. There was a time when the former Madrid captain was a bit obsessed with statistics, with over 180 appearances and an unbeaten international. Luis Enrique used to think of Ramos’ world as a defender, a captain, a professional footballer. People like these two don’t do “love”, but that’s secondary.
Ramos told Luis Enrique ahead of a World Cup qualifier against Kosovo in March 2021 that he was fine and could come off the bench. He played the last four minutes of a 3-1 victory, returned to his club with an injury and missed a few weeks at Real Madrid, with Luis Enrique feeling as though he was being pulled in the eye by wool. The defender has not played for Spain since then.
Now he is fit and playing well at Paris Saint-Germain, and La Roja There is a surplus of left-footed centre-backs, but no right-footed partner they need. Ahead of Paris Saint-Germain’s recent Champions League tie against Juventus, Ramos admitted “everyone knows what it means for me to play for my country: I feel good physically, but it’s up to the manager. “
Will Luis Enrique forgive Ramos, recall him or even re-appoint him as captain? It’s a huge call, and it has to be true: there’s no gray area for two men with such distinct personalities.
Keep an eye on this story. At Euro 2020, Spain scored five goals twice, conceded the game’s own goal, won and lost one in a dramatic penalty shootout. In the last Nations League, they beat the European champions and rattled the cage of the world champions. Luis Enrique has never been and never will be controversial, intense or entertaining. His players look up to him and are very engaged, which means if this game is his last in Spain, win or lose, it will be hot.