Barcelona appoint Luis Enrique as new coach, Lionel Messi signs new deal

Spanish Primera Liga giants part ways with Gerardo Martino after just one season in charge, but the club have long-term plans for playmaker.
Luis Enrique has previously been coach at Barcelona B. Andrea Staccioli / EPA
Luis Enrique has previously been coach at Barcelona B. Andrea Staccioli / EPA

BARCELONA // Barcelona on Monday appointed their former captain and outgoing Celta Vigo manager Luis Enrique as their new coach to replace Gerardo Martino after a disappointing trophyless season, the club said.

Enrique, 44, scored 109 goals in 300 appearances for the Catalan team in eight years after joining from eternal rivals Real Madrid in 1996, and also had great success in three seasons as Barca B coach.

Now Barca board is betting on him bringing the 2012/13 title holders back to glory after they ended this season without a major trophy for the first time in six years, forcing Martino to quit after just one season in charge.

“The FC Barcelona Board of Directors have this evening confirmed Luis Enrique Martinez as the new first team coach,” the club said in a statement, adding that the 44 year old will sign a two-year deal and be officially presented on Wednesday.

“He soon became a firm favourite with the fans for his competitive attitude. In addition, his versatility, knack of scoring big goals and technical ability made him a key member of the team,” Barcelona said in its statement.

In his first three seasons he won two Primera Liga titles, two Spanish Cups, a European Cup Winners Cup and a European Super Cup.

Enrique succeeded Pep Guardiola as Barca B coach in 2008 and led them back to the second tier of Spanish football for the first time in 11 years in his second season.

He joined Celta Vigo in June 2013 and coached them to ninth in the Primera Liga this season.

Barcelona narrowly missed out on winning Primera Liga on Saturday in a 1-1 home draw to Atletico Madrid, who took the title for the first time in 18 years in a dramatic title decider.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi has signed a restructured contract extension with Barcelona that reportedly makes the Argentina international the world’s highest-paid football player.

Barcelona had originally announced the deal on Friday and says it was officially signed on Monday. The Catalan club says Messi “was very motivated by the deal”.

Messi, 26, will earn a reported US$27 million (nearly Dh100m) per season with further incentives able to drive the deal up to $34m per year until the contract ends in 2017/18 – surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo’s deal with Real Madrid. Messi also has a buy-out clause of $343m.

Messi’s previous contract ran through the 2017/18 season and was worth a reported $22m per season.

Messi’s deal comes two days after Barcelona lost its Spanish league title to Atletico Madrid following a 1-1 draw between the teams at its Camp Nou Stadium.

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Published: May 19, 2014 04:00 AM

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