Neymar, Cesc Fabregas and 6 Issues for Luis Enrique to Address at Barcelona
Luis Enrique has been unveiled as Barcelona's new manager, signing a three-year deal to take charge of the club, per their official website.
During his introductory press conference, he underlined how difficult the job will be, but that he'll do his best to bring glory back to the stands of the Camp Nou.
Here, we've deduced six issues the former Celta Vigo man must address over the course of the summer. Should he ignore them, there's a slim chance la Blaugrana will taste success any time soon.
Neymar's Tactical Fit and Role
The signing of Neymar was supposed to relieve the burden on Lionel Messi, and the acquisition was prompted when the sight of a Messi-less Barcelona flunked on the European stage.
However, shoe-horning them both into the starting XI has debunked the Barca "way" of playing. While Neymar's best position is coming off the left, he doesn't track runners and doesn't press.
Luis Enrique needs to find a formula where Messi and Neymar can co-exist, play well and not disrupt the style of play.
Lionel Messi's Position?
Lionel Messi's work rate has sloped off a little over the past year and questions remain over whether it was injury, motivation or unhappiness with Gerardo Martino's system that was the cause.
Despite bagging a very impressive 28 goals and 11 assists from 29 La Liga starts last season, per WhoScored.com, he's not perceived to be in top form—not by a long shot.
Luis Enrique will know the key to success is keeping the Argentine happy, and there may be some joy in moving him wide right into a role that's similar to how he plays for his national side under Alejandro Sabella.
In 2009, when Barca defeated Manchester United, he was electric coming off the flank.
Is it time for a slight change in philosophy, or do the team simply need to force play through him centrally more often?
The pressing issue is linked with the personnel, and it was supposed to be solved via Gerardo Martino and his more direct, aggressive style of play.
The Argentine coach came fresh from utilising a furious 4-3-3/3-4-3 hybrid at Newell's Old Boys, and with the off-the-ball effort lacking under Tito Vilanova, the expectation was that Barca would restore their frenzied defensive pace.
However, it didn't pan out, and Barca have looked very susceptible to direct teams and counters due to their inability to close off playmakers.
Luis Enrique must do what he can to reinstate pressure higher up the pitch...or shore up the defence.
The deafening silence does more to damage the midfielder's stock than enhance it, and while it's unlikely Enrique's seasonal plans have taken any sort of shape yet, his careful reaction will fuel the press.
B/R's Guillem Balague hinted on Tuesday that Premier League clubs were set to fight for the €40 million-rated playmaker. Enrique's actions so far suggest there's some truth to the notion.
There are several loan stars returning to the Camp Nou this summer, with Bojan, Rafinha and Gerard Deulofeu set to appear ready for preseason.
Bojan's future looks bleak, but Deulofeu showed enough at Everton to warrant a look and Rafinha excelled under Luis Enrique at Celta Vigo.
Given the managerial link, Rafinha stands the best chance of impacting the first team in the immediate future. Deulofeu could be very useful should Alexis Sanchez not thrive without Gerardo Martino's more direct style.
Perhaps most importantly, Luis Enrique needs to restore belief in the Barcelona camp, board and fanbase.
Gerardo Martino was never truly accepted by all quarters and by the end the majority of Cules were baying for his removal despite accruing 87 points and getting to the Copa del Rey final.
Enrique, being a former player and captain and on the back of an overachieving season with Celta Vigo, will reignite belief into the Barcelona project.
If the fans respond, the players will as well. It's why making the right appointment after Martino is so important.