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The Future of Luis Enrique

The Barcelona coach has put a firm halt on all contract negotiations until the spring but does that signal his exit?

David Ramos/Getty Images

As Barcelona manager, you can imagine it's a lot like spinning plates except you have 100 plates going at once and 100 million people watching your every move. The job places you under a very intense magnifying glass and while the successes enjoyed make it worthwhile, the stress can eventually take you down.

Upon announcing his decision to leave in 2012, Pep Guardiola stated "I'm drained and I need to fill up." This was not mere rhetoric though as Guardiola felt it necessary to step away from the game at a time when every elite club in the world was calling. Stylistically, Guardiola and Enrique are cut from the same cloth and despite Enrique appearing more reserved than Guardiola, he is likely feeling the same dragging stress that Pep was.

"Time has taken its toll - I rise each day and don't feel the same." Guardiola, 2012

Already high pressured affairs where a single misplaced word can make national headlines, press conferences become that little bit tougher when every other question is about your future at the club. This is why Enrique took the option of pouring cold water over the chatter before it got out of hand. The summer past saw him announce that any talk would be suspended until the new year but surely in the back of his mind is the creeping question of whether he should continue.

From the outside looking in, it would seem mad not to. An opportunity to manage a team with one of the best attacking tridents in history that regularly competes for the treble would be a chance that any manager would bite your hand off for. However, Enrique believes in the affect a long term coach has on the players. Sir Alex Ferguson is often touted as the best manager in the game's history and key factor of this was his ability to produce title winning teams time and time again. Arsène Wenger is another in that mould but the average stay of a manager is becoming shorter and shorter in the modern game. At two years and four months, Enrique is the fifth longest serving  manager in La Liga and of the eight teams in last season's Champions League quarter finals, only Atlético Madrid have withheld their manager longer than Barcelona have.

"I would only give out six-month contracts. If you're not absolutely happy, you go."

Enrique himself has stated his favouritism towards shorter term contracts and that a career of longevity such as Wenger's would be "impossible" in Spain.

After any period in a top club it becomes apparent that to rediscover success, a change of personnel is often needed. Whether that be the manager or the players, a freshness is required to reinvigorate the club and eliminate any complacency. When Enrique first joined the club he successfully oversaw an important period of transition. First team players such as Luis Suárez, Ivan Rakitić, Claudio Bravo and Marc-André ter Stegen where all brought in under Enrique while club legends like Xavi gracefully moved on.

The summer's signings would suggest Enrique is again looking to build for the future. André Gomes, Samuel Umtiti, Denis Suárez and Lucas Digne were all acquired with the next generation in mind but does Enrique see himself as the one to shape the team? He could be building a platform for the coach to come in and work with.

The increasing financial advancements of the Premier League may also be turning his head. You suspect Enrique will be paying close attention to Guardiola and his Manchester City adventure with an eye on England as a possible future destination. Earlier in this season, Enrique was asked of his openness towards a Premier League move and responded "The future of coaches is becoming more uncertain in the world we work,". So perhaps the chance of a bumper pay day may be enough to persuade him his time with the Catalan club has come to an end. On the flip side of the argument, it is unlikely any of the top clubs in the Premier League will be looking for a new manager this summer when Enrique's contract ends.

Of course, there are significant opportunities elsewhere in the world as well. Enrique's stock has risen exponentially during his time with Barcelona and you can imagine there would be a long list of suitors happy to have him on board.

For now, all eyes are on his work at Barcelona but the outcome of this season will have a strong effect on his decision to stay or go.

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