When Luis Enrique announced his Spain squad for the World Cup on Friday, the football world will be ready for it. This powerful Teflon man loves to defy people’s expectations and lives their lives to thwart his many enemies. We’re talking about someone who draws his strength from criticism and controversy like the cartoon character Popeye who grew muscle after squeaking a can of spinach.
So when Spain’s coach reads the 26-chosen names, everyone will be on the edge of their seats as to whether brilliant and injured player Ansu Fati, who was dropped from the last squad, travels to Qatar, whether it’s Spain coach and 36-year-old defender Sergio Ramos reconciled. And whether he will infuriate Real Sociedad by risking capturing Mikel Oyarzabal despite the striker not playing since March?
But there will be another shiver entirely, which should interest you if you have an interest in the future of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, PSG, Manchester City, Liverpool or any of Europe’s elite clubs. Because this could easily be the last Spain team that Lucho reads.
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Considering how great he did while in charge La Ruga – the semi-finalists at Euro 2020, the finalists in the 2021 Nations League, and again in the semi-finals of the 2023 Nations League next June – and with relatively limited resources, there will be many fans and observers across Spain hoping that this is not the case Extended start Farewell. But the fact remains that this talented, driven and aggressive 52-year-old had his contract with the Spanish Football Federation expired at the end of the World Cup.
So far, all attempts to renew his deal have been rejected. Already, the drumbeat of Spanish football is ringing with the message that Atleti is heavily inclined to try to deal with the decline of Diego Simeone’s regime by asking Luis Enrique if he envisioned returning to club football when he finished his work in Qatar.
It came to a head two days ago, when former Real Madrid, Valencia and national team goalkeeper Santiago Canizares said on the radio: “Maybe it’s the best thing for ‘Cholo’.” [Simeone] and Atlético for their tracks to part – so they don’t slow down. They haven’t played good football for two seasons. One name comes to mind, with the character dealing with Atleti, and that is Luis Enrique.”
I also know that a La Liga and European Cup winner with a great Barcelona past believes that if Luis Enrique looks set to return to club football, Barcelona president Joan Laporta will face a serious dilemma over whether to watch like this. The iconic Camp Nou player and coach boosts one of his enemies, or whether he should strike first by resetting him instead.
The counterpoint at the moment is that the Spain coach has a very attractive lifestyle: spending quality time with family in his Mediterranean village, being able to follow his semi-obsessive career to staying fit, slim, healthy, competitive and balanced with bursts of intense football activity that allow him to put all his energy into the A project without the daily, weekly and monthly wear and tear that all the top club coaches suffer from.
However, his Spanish side – which relies heavily on an exaggerated Barcelona midfield and squeeze under pressure from Gavi, Sergio Busquets and Pedri – perform against Costa Rica, Germany and Japan in team play in Qatar, and the truth is that there is a very attractive safety net ‘chance to win the title As soon as in June against hosts Croatia, Italy or the Netherlands in next year’s UEFA Nations League.
It’s easy to imagine Luis Enrique renewing his contract either until then or for a longer period, but naming the clubs he would be allowed to leave without compensation if offered the opportunity to take over as coach. What might this mean? Simply put, any club interested in his services, whether immediately or for the 2023-24 season, should be vying for a spot at the moment.
The last words on the subject, from Spanish Federation president Luis Rubiales, were far from encouraging. It looked as if he was preparing to impose his will – or his ego – on the situation just as he had done with Julen Lopetegui days before Spain kicked off in Russia during the 2018 World Cup.
Rubiales told a radio program:[Luis Enrique] It can stay, or it can’t stay. It may be because of his decision or ours [the FA] resolution. This is part of football and he will understand if that was our decision, just as we would have understood if that was his decision.”
Now, I’m neither an agent nor an employment attorney, but Rubiales’ words seem a far cry from “we want him to stay, it’s essential that he knows how important he is to us…we’ll find a way to convince him” to stay…”
It may well be that Pep Guardiola is preparing to join an explosive extended tour at Manchester City now that he realizes he is about to enjoy a second ‘Messi’ experience thanks to Erling Haaland.
Although there is no physical resemblance between Lionel Messi and Haaland and completely different playing styles, what connects them is their uncanny ability to keep rivals out of the games. Why wouldn’t you want to surf several super-successful seasons on that wave? However, if Guardiola fancy fulfilling one of his dreams, which is to coach Brazil (or even England) to win the World Cup in 2026, there is no better candidate than Luis Enrique to take over and expand his core business.
Attitudes, mentality and philosophy of football, as well as a keen desire to nurture and trust talent regardless of age: there are many things that connect Guardiola and Luis Enrique, his former Barcelona teammates.
Who knows who will buy Liverpool, how fast, or how Jurgen Klopp feels about a potential goalkeeper change? But when Klopp finally opted to take an extended vacation and travel the world with his wife, first, Luis Enrique would once again be an attractive candidate there as well.
Spain’s coaching was an important part of recovering from the family’s most traumatic grief because even after he and his family mourned the loss of his daughter, Zana, in 2019, he became motivated to return to applying his talent and volcanic energy. It is impossible to ignore. It’s a harsh reality: he is a very good coach, amazingly smart in his profession, forward thinking and someone who relentlessly strives to find small margins of improvement in order to play an exciting brand of football.
He told me in the past: “For my coach, the most important idea is ‘attack.’ When I choose my team and I choose any team, we first look at what our players can offer in attack, the concept is ‘pressure.’ My team attacks in a very specific way. , in a good position, so that when we lose the ball, we can put pressure on the opponent and get it back.
The third crucial idea is “ambition”. By that I mean my team plays the same situation whoever they are up against, wherever they are, whatever the outcome. We attack and defend the same thing in every game. So now I have an attacking philosophy of risk taking, which asks players to take the game on opponents and be decisive in the match.”
If he was reading this, he would be angry. None of this is a topic that wants to stand in the way of Spain beating (probably above) its weight in Qatar over the next month, which brings us back to his team’s announcement.
It’s been a year since some in the Madrid press mocked him for including 17-year-old Gavi in the Nations League squad to face Italy, the European champions. I heard some journalists talking, after the manager’s press conference, and they literally thought the Spain coach was talking about choosing a kid who didn’t appear in Barcelona’s first team except in a little bit of contradiction and provocation in the ‘anti-Lucho’ media.
They were wrong, and with great difficulty. Now, Gavi has made 12 caps for the national team and is an essential part of Spain’s World Cup campaign. Could there be anything similar this time?
Then there is Ramos. There was a time when the former Real Madrid captain was obsessed with statistics, with over 180 caps for him and a number of undefeated internationals. Luis Enrique believed in Ramos’ world as a defender, as a captain and as a professional footballer. Guys like these two don’t make “love”, but that was the next best thing.
Ramos told Luis Enrique before a World Cup qualifier against Kosovo in March 2021 that he was fine and fit to play as a substitute. Playing the last four minutes of the 3-1 win, he returned to his club injured, missed Real Madrid for several weeks and Luis Enrique felt as if he had pulled the wool over his eyes; The defender has not been involved with Spain since then.
Now he is fit and plays well for PSG La Ruga They have plenty of left-footed defenders, but not the right-footed partner they need. Before PSG faced Juventus recently in a Champions League match, Ramos admitted, “Everyone knows how much it means to me playing for my country: I feel good, but it’s up to the manager.”
Will Luis Enrique pardon Ramos, remember him and reinstate him as captain? It’s a huge call, and you have to be right: there is no gray area with two guys having such scintillating personalities.
Keep your eyes on this story. In Euro 2020, Spain scored five goals, conceded the goal of the tournament, won an exciting penalty shootout and lost one. In the last Nations League, they beat the European champions and shook the world champions cage. Luis Enrique has never been, and never will be, without controversy, acrimony, or amusement. His players revere him and are deeply committed in the sense that if this tournament is his last with Spain, then win, lose or draw, it will be fiery.