Luis Enrique to leave Barcelona in summer

Coach announces that he will leave Nou Camp when his contract expires in the summer

Lionel Messi heads home Barcelona’s opening goal in the La Liga game against   Sporting Gijon at the  Nou Camp. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Lionel Messi heads home Barcelona’s opening goal in the La Liga game against Sporting Gijon at the Nou Camp. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

 

Barcelona 6 Sporting Gijon 1

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique will leave the Spanish La Liga champions at the end of the season when his contract expires, he said on Wednesday.

Luis Enrique made the announcement at a news conference after Barca thrashed Sporting Gijon 6-1 at the Nou Camp to keep up their bid for a third league title under the management of their former midfielder.

“I would like to thank the club for the confidence they have shown in me, it’s been three unforgettable years,” said Luis Enrique, who has won two La Liga titles, two King’s Cups and the 2015 Champions League since succeeding Gerardo Martino in 2014.

The 46-year-old initially signed a two-year deal before agreeing a one-year extension at the end of a first season in which he won the treble.

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu had spoken of his wish to keep Luis Enrique, but now he must look for a new boss.

Bartomeu said on Barcelona’s official Twitter: “We accept Luis Enrique’s decision. He has been a great a coach. Now is it time to end his spell in the best possible way.

“Luis Enrique has brought us great success and he can still bring us more. The players are motivated to do it.”

Earlier in the evening, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all on target as Barcelona cruised to victory.

Title-chasing Barca were 2-0 up after 11 minutes through Messi and a Juan Rodriguez own goal.

Relegation-threatened Sporting pulled one back after 21 minutes through Carlos Castro, but Suarez restored the two-goal lead before half-time.

Paco Alcacer added a fourth within four minutes of his half-time introduction in place of Suarez.

And Neymar struck his first home league goal of the campaign, in his 10th game at the Nou Camp, as Barca made it five before Ivan Rakitic added a late sixth.

Barca boss Luis Enrique began his career with Sporting and holds them in his affections.

But there was no room for sentiment as Barca took control of the contest with two goals in three first-half minutes.

Javier Mascherano found Messi, who was played onside, and the Argentina forward looped a header over Sporting’s advancing goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar.

Suarez doubled the lead shortly afterwards after being found by Neymar’s pass.

The former Liverpool striker rounded Cuellar and squeezed the ball goalwards, only for Sporting’s Rodriguez to get the final touch and be credited with the goal.

Sporting pulled a goal back when Castro reacted first after Sergio Alvarez had hit a post.

Suarez swiftly restored Barca’s two-goal cushion, netting six minutes later. The Uruguayan struck a vicious volley past Cuellar after Sporting’s Jean-Sylvain Babin failed to clear.

Suarez was risking a suspension which would rule him out of the next match with Celta Vigo, so he was replaced at the interval, with Alcacer introduced.

Messi forced Babin into an error and found the substitute, who struck a fine left-footed shot into the left corner.

Messi clipped a free-kick inches over before himself departing and next Neymar found the net with a set-piece.

From the ‘wrong’ side for a right-footed strike, Neymar curled the ball over the wall and inside the near post.

Rakitic added a late sixth after combining with Sergi Roberto and finishing emphatically beyond Cuellar.

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