Barcelona have announced the appointment of Luís Enrique as their new manager on a two-year deal.
The 44-year-old walked away from the job as Celta Vigo coach midway through his two-year contract on Friday, and replaces Gerardo Martino after the 51-year-old stepped down following their 1-1 draw with Atlético Madrid – a result that meant Atlético won the La Liga title at Barcelona’s expense.
The club said on their official website: “The FC Barcelona board of directors have this evening confirmed Luís Enrique Martínez as the new first-team coach, following a proposal from sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta. Luís Enrique, 44, will sign a two-year deal.”
This will be Enrique’s third spell at Barcelona having joined as a player from Real Madrid in 1996, when he soon became a firm favourite, making over 200 appearances until his retirement in 2004. In 2008, he took over as coach of Barcelona B and won promotion to the second division in his second year, taking the side to a record-breaking points haul and finishing the 2010-11 season in third place.
Celta Vigo, in turn, hired their former player Eduardo Berizzo on a two-year deal as the replacement. The Argentinian arrives from the Chilean side O’Higgins and served as Marcelo Bielsa’s assistant with Chile at the 2010 World Cup.
Lionel Messi, meanwhile, has signed an improved contract, a deal that will reportedly make the four-times world player of the year the game’s best-paid player with a net annual salary of €20m (£16.3m). In a statement the La Liga club said that “Barcelona announces the signing of the agreement for the readjustment of Lionel Messi’s [current] contract” which is due to expire in June 2018.
The 26-year-old Argentinian had reached an agreement with the club on Friday, but the paperwork was only signed on Monday. “I am happy to continue at my home like I have always said,” wrote on Twitter. “The people of Barcelona are those that decide what do with my future and my choice is always to continue as long as I feel the support from them. If I didn’t then I would look for a solution because I always want the best for this club.”
Barcelona failed to win any major honours this season for the first time in six years and Messi accepted that they have not been at their best. “I can only say sorry to everyone at Barcelona and promise that next year we will be back at the level this club deserves and we will achieve important things,” he added. Barça also confirmed the signing of the goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen from Borussia Mönchengladbach and the return of Rafa Alcântara and Gerard Deulofeu who have been out on loan at Celta Vigo and Everton respectively.