Barcelona boss Luis Enrique announced that he will not return to coach the team in the summer leaving the club to find a worthy replacement. Several outlets have Sevilla‘s Jorge Sampaoli as the favorite to take the job but other names like Eusebio from Real Sociedad and Ernesto Valverde of Atletic Bilbao have been mentioned as well.
Lionel Messi reportedly prefers Sampaoli as the successor to Lucho after receiving positive reviews from his former teammate Alexis Sanchez. The former Chile national team boss has been outstanding with the Andulisian club as they sit in third place in the La Liga standings. A contract extension has been mooted for Sampaoli but nothing has come to fruition as of yet paving the way for Barça to swoop in.
In January 2017 Sampaoli told Goal.com that he would like to coach Messi at some stage of his managerial career.
“I would love to coach Messi and get to see him every day, from the side of the field. It’s a unique opportunity to see the best player of the world up close.”
So how does Sanchez come into the picture?
The 28-year-old Chile international has a close relationship with Sampaoli during their time together with the national team during an impressive 2014 World Cup and then winning the Copa America in 2015. There were even rumors floating around that Sanchez would be willing to play for Sevilla to reunite with his former coach.
If indeed Barcelona appoint Sampaoli as their new head coach, Spanish outlet Don Balon (Via Express) is claiming that he would like to bring El Chico Maravilla to Catalonia.
His contract is up next summer and the club are yet to strike an agreement over a contract extension.
It is said Sampaoli would love to bring Sanchez to the Nou Camp having been interested in signing him for Sevilla.
Sanchez played for Barcelona from 2011 to 2014 scoring 42 goals and notching 27 assists but was sold to Arsenal to fund a move for Luis Suarez. Immediately Alexis made his presence felt in the Premier League becoming a star for the Gunners. Since arriving to Emirates Stadium, he has tallied 55 goals and 30 assists for the club. It’s baffling that the club has not re-signed him to an extension fueling speculation he could depart in the summer.
A number of top-notch clubs are interested in signing Sanchez in the summer and could offer him the wages he is asking for including Barcelona. A mouthwatering quartet of Messi, Suarez, Neymar and Sanchez would be fun to watch. There has been talk before that Messi could eventually drop to the midfield as he gets older which would open his right-wing spot for the versatile Sanchez.
In any case, a lot has to happen for this to even happen. Sampaoli has pledged his commitment to Sevilla, Barcelona would prefer a coach that is familiar with the club’s philosophy, Sanchez himself would have to bury any hard feelings towards the club that surprisingly sold him (in the mind of Barça Sporting Director Ariedo Braida) and finally Arsenal would have to agree to sell.
Sanchez traveled to Barcelona for a court appearance after their Champions League thrashing and it’s doubtful he’d want that distraction but then again murmurs keep surfacing of his unhappiness at the club so well wait to see what happens at the end of the season.