When Luis Enrique announces Spain’s World Cup squad on Friday, the soccer world will be ready for it. This tough, single-minded Teflon man likes to defy people’s expectations and lives to thwart his many enemies. We’re talking about someone who thrives on criticism and controversy, like the cartoon character Popeye who grew muscles after ripping open a can of spinach.
So when the Spain manager calls out the 26 names selected, everyone will be on the edge of their seats whether the brilliant but injured Ansu Fati, who was left out of the last squad, will travel to Qatar, the Spain manager and Sergio Ramos, the 36- Salle has reconciled, and will he anger Real Sociedad by risking Mikel Oyarzabal even though the striker hasn’t played since March?
But overall there will be another frisson that should intrigue you if you’re interested in the future of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Liverpool or any of Europe’s forward-thinking elite clubs. Because this could easily be the last Spanish composition to sing “lucho”.
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Due to his excellent performance during his tenure La Roja — the Euro 2020 semi-finals, the 2021 Nations League finalists, the 2023 Nations League semi-finals again in the final four next June — and with relatively limited resources, there will be plenty of fans and observers across Spain hoping that does not happen. The beginning of an extended adios. But the fact is that the contract of the talented, driven and aggressive 52-year-old player with the Spanish Football Federation has expired at the end of the World Cup.
All attempts to renew his contract have so far been rejected. At the moment, the drumbeat of Spanish football is beating the message that Atleti are very tempted to try asking Luis Enrique if he would like to return to club football after his stint in Qatar. Cope with Diego Simeone’s declining diet.
It all came to an end 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 their paths to diverge – so they don’t stagnate. They have not played good football for several seasons. “One name comes to mind, with the personality who manages Atleti, and that is Luis Enrique.”
Also, I know a European Cup finalist and La Liga champion with a long history at Barca who believes that if Luis Enrique looks on the verge of a return to club football, then Barcelona president Juan Laporta faces a serious dilemma. Whether to watch such a game or not. The player and coach of the Nou Camp icon will strengthen one of his enemies or should he strike first by re-hiring him.
The contrast now is that the Spain coach enjoys a very attractive lifestyle: quality time with his family in his Mediterranean village, the ability to follow his almost obsessive drive to stay fit, lean, healthy and competitive, balanced with vigorous activity. football player That allows him to devote all his energy to the project without the daily, weekly, and monthly burnout that all top club coaches suffer from.
Yet his Spanish side – heavily reliant on Barcelona’s high-flying and under-pressure midfield of Gavi, Sergio Busquets and Pedri – play Costa Rica, Germany and Japan in group play in Qatar, the reality is that ‘safety’ There is a lot of charm. net” a chance to win a trophy in June against Croatia, Italy or hosts Holland in next year’s UEFA Nations League.
It’s easy to imagine Luis Enrique extending his contract for that long or longer, but name the clubs he could leave without compensation if they offered him the chance to become a manager. What could this mean? Simply put, any club interested in his services, whether immediately or for the 2023-24 season, should be pushing for their position now.
The last words of the president of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, were not very encouraging. He appeared to be preparing to impose his will – or ego – on the situation, just as he did with Julen Lopetegui a few days before Spain kicked off the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Rubiales said in a radio program:[Luis Enrique] It can stay on or not and it can be because of his decision or ours [the FA] Making decisions is part of football and if it was our decision, he would understand, just as if it was his decision, we would understand.”
Now, I’m neither an agent nor a labor lawyer, but Rubiales’ words sound far from “we want him to stay, it’s imperative that he knows how important he is to us…we’ll find a way to convince him did.” Stay…”
Pep Guardiola may be preparing for an explosive and long ride at Manchester City now that he knows he is about to enjoy a second ‘Messi-like’ experience thanks to Erling Holland.
Although Lionel Messi and Haaland have no physical similarities and completely different playing styles, what binds them together is their uncanny ability to take games away from their opponents. Why wouldn’t you want to ride that wave for a few super successful seasons? However, if Guardiola aspires to fulfill one of his dreams, coaching Brazil (or even England) to the 2026 World Cup, there is no better candidate than Luis Enrique to start and expand his career.
Attitudes, mentality, football philosophy, plus a misguided willingness to promote and trust talent regardless of age: there are many things that link Guardiola and former Barca teammates Luis Enrique.
Who knows who will buy Liverpool, how quickly, or how Jurgen Klopp feels about a potential changing of the guard? But when Klopp finally decides to take his much-debated vacation and travel the world with his wife Ola, Luis Enrique will be an attractive candidate there again.
Spain’s coaching has been an important part of his recovery from the most painful family tragedy, as even after he and his family mourned the loss of his daughter, Xana, in 2019, the comeback effort turned to harnessing his talent and volcanic energy again. . Impossible to ignore is one very simple fact: he is an incredibly good coach, incredibly smart in his craft, a visionary and someone who relentlessly strives to find small margins of improvement to create an exciting brand. to play football
In the past, he told me: “The most important idea for my coaching is ‘attack’. When my staff and I choose a team, we first look at what our players can offer in attack. The concept is ‘pressure’. Teams They attack clearly, they have good positions so that when we lose the ball, we can put pressure on the opponent and win it again.
The third vital idea is “ambition”. I mean, my team plays with the same attitude whoever they face, wherever they are, whatever the score. We attack and defend the same in every game. So now I have an attacking philosophy that takes risks and asks the players to accept. Playing for opponents and being decisive in a match.”
If he’s reading this, he’s pissed. None of this is something he wants to stop Spain punching above their weight (and possibly above) in Qatar next month, which brings us back to his squad announcement.
It’s been a year since some in the Madrid press completely mocked the 17-year-old Gavi’s inclusion in the Nations League squad to face European champions Italy. After the manager’s press conference, I heard some journalists talking and they literally believed that the Spanish manager chose a kid with few appearances in the Barcelona first team because of the sheer opposition and incitement of the “anti-Lucho” media. talks.
They were wrong, and horribly wrong. Now Gavi has 12 national matches in his career and is one of the main parts of Spain’s World Cup competitions. Could there be something like an equivalent this time?
Then there is Ramos. There was a time when the former Madrid captain had a bit of an interest in statistics, recording more than 180 caps and his unbeaten international tally. Luis Enrique imagined the world of Ramos as a defender, as a captain and as a professional footballer. Men like those two don’t make ‘love’, but it was the next best thing.
Ramos told Luis Enrique ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Kosovo in March 2021 that he was fine and ready to play as a substitute. He played the last four minutes of a 3-1 win, back at his club injured, missing several weeks for Madrid and Luis Enrique feeling like the wool was pulled over his eyes. The defender has not played for Spain since.
Now he is fit and playing well for PSG La Roja They have plenty of left-footed centre-backs, but not the right-footed partner they need. Before PSG faced Juventus in a Champions League game recently, Ramos admitted: “Everyone knows how much it means to me to play for my country: I feel fit and I’m good, but it depends on the manager. has it.”
Will Luis Enrique pardon Ramos, recall him and even reassign him as captain? It’s a huge call, and it should be true: there’s no gray area with two men with such convoluted personalities.
Watch out for this story At Euro 2020, Spain scored five goals twice, conceded the tournament’s own goal, won a dramatic penalty shoot-out and lost one. In the last League of Nations, they defeated the European champion and shook the cage of the world champions. Luis Enrique has never been free from controversy, intensity or entertainment. His players respect him and are very committed, which means if this tournament is his last with Spain, win, lose or draw, it will be a fire.