Updates from Monday, May 19
Barcelona confirmed the hiring of Luis Enrique today via the club's Twitter account:
Updates from Sunday, May 18
ESPN's Staff provided a statement from Luis Enrique discussing his future during yesterday's post-match press conference:
When I have something to say, I'll tell you. Right now, I can't make anything up. We'll see if there's anything or if there isn't anything and in this case, something else. I saw (Barcelona's draw to lose the La Liga title), I suffered and I think that Atletico Madrid are the worthy La Liga champions.
When asked specifically about the potential opportunity to manage Barcelona, Enrique replied, courtesy of ESPN:
I'd like to fly without a plane, I'd like to be more handsome, although, I already am a little bit and I'd like to be stronger, because I'm not.
Talk of Luis Enrique's potential appointment as Barcelona's next manager has increased after it was confirmed that the 44-year-old has parted ways with Celta Vigo.
Enrique is hotly tipped to succeed Gerardo Martino at the Barca helm this summer, with Spanish outlet AS quoting Enrique upon his departure from Estadio Balaidos:
Luis Enrique announces his departure from Celta: "For me, this is a very sad day. I feel very close to this club + everyone who works here"— AS English (@English_AS) May 16, 2014
La Blaugrana may appoint their former player to the manager's role even if Martino's side manage to win the La Liga title by beating current leaders Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
Ben Hayward of Goal.com provides further quotes from Enrique regarding his difficult exit from Celta:
Today I am coach of Celta and I will be until the end of the season. I felt obliged to let the club know my plans, so they have time to prepare. There is no exclusive reason [for my departure], but I left my family behind in Barcelona and that has been hard.
I can't confirm or deny anything. In terms of my future, there is nothing to talk about. If an interesting situation arises in future, I will communicate that.
Martino's first season in charge of Barca hasn't quite hit the same heights that Pep Guardiola did during his four years in charge of the club, with the Argentine only managing a runner-up finish in the Copa del Rey after being ousted from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.
Between Carles Puyol leaving the club alongside Victor Valdes at the end of the campaign, Lionel Messi's injury issues and integrating big-money arrival Neymar into the team, it's been a tough season at the Camp Nou.
Earlier in May, Alex Richards of the Mirror reported that Enrique had already met with Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, further intensifying the swelling rumours that he was next in line for the head coach position.
Enrique spent the last eight years of his playing career at Barcelona, making 300 appearances for the club before retiring in 2004.
Since then, the Spaniard has held positions with the Barca reserves, spent one year in charge of Roma and has now reversed Celta's fortunes after guiding the side to ninth in the league this season.
In him, it would appear Barca see a figure with strong connections to their organisation who can get the most out of those players they presumably feel Martino hasn't inspired.
ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan quotes Puyol as giving his assessment on the seemingly inbound manager, whom he once called a teammate:
Puyol: "Luis Enrique is a good coach, a good friend. He has a big character, transmits to players what made him such a good player."— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) May 15, 2014
All management speculation aside, Barcelona's full attention will now be devoted toward the side's season-deciding clash at home to Atletico on Saturday, which promises to end their campaign on an almighty high or a most despairing low.