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Luís Enrique is the man to revive Barcelona's fortunes

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Luís Enrique's appointment as Barcelona first-team coach bears similarities with Pep Guardiola's arrival in 2008. Both came off the back of barren seasons, with third place finishes in La Liga and semi-final exits in the Champions League.

Both are ex-Barcelona players, who received their first jobs in football management coaching the Barcelona B team, with high-levels of success, impressing the Barcelona hierarchy. 

Whilst Guardiola leapt straight from the B team to the senior side, Enrique had an unsuccessful spell at Roma, before reviving his reputation with Celta Vigo this season, guiding the Galician's to ninth place in La Liga, playing attractive, possession based football.   

Enrique's style of football was a crucial factor in why he was awarded the job. Under Tata Martino, Barcelona had become functional, with no blueprint for breaking sides down. When changing over from Guardiola, Barcelona either needed to stick with the tiki-taka style, or bring in a manager that would revolutionise the club's tactics. Martino did neither, often over-relying on Lionel Messi, and playing players out of position.

Enrique has some difficult decisions to make early in his reign. Dani Alves is believed to be one the verge of joining Paris Saint Germain, and replacing him will be an early headache. If he takes the stance of promoting from within, which has often been the policy at the Camp Nou, Martin Montoya and Elohor Godswill are the likely benefactors.

Montoya has found his route to the first team blocked by Alves, but at twenty-three still has time to become a world-class full-back. Godswill is only eighteen, but possesses Alves' similar thirst for attacking. Due to his tender age, it would be a shock if he is promoted to the first-team straight away, but Enrique will no doubt be aware of his potential. If Enrique chooses to replace Alves from outside the club, Toulouse's Serge Aurier, and Everton's Seamus Coleman would be viable options.    

Another area that has needed strengthening for years has been Barcelona's central defence, especially with Carles Puyol retiring. There has been a strange arrogance at Barcelona, in allowing Javier Mascherano to play alongside Gerard Pique, believing that Barcelona retain so much possession they don't need two out-and-out centre-backs.

Against Atlético this was repeatedly exposed, and if Enrique does't address the situation Barcelona will still be vulnerable. It is vital whoever they buy is comfortable with ball at feet, so Jan Vertonghen, Leonardo Bonucci, David Luiz and Mats Hummels would all be perfectly suited to the role.   

Throughout Enrique's tenure at Celta, a 4-3-3 formation was favoured. You wouldn't expect this to change at Barcelona, although it does bring into question the future of some of the midfielders. The holy trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets are unlikely to be disturbed, but Cesc Fabregas' situation is looking increasingly shaky. Fabregas bore the brunt of Barcelona supporters anger at times this season, and a mega-money bid may tempt Enrique into selling.

Sergi Roberto, Denis Suárez and Sergi Samper all possess the potential to play at a similar level to Fabregas, and given Enrique's familiarity with the B team, he may decide to utilise their ability, given that they will be happier to play a squad role.

Up front, Enrique has an abundance of talent to call upon. Messi, Pedro, Neymar and Sanchez are a quartet good enough to win most games single handedly. However, you get the impression that Barcelona, in particular Neymar, would benefit from a focal point in attack.

Playing up front for Barcelona, similarly to the Spanish national team, is one of the most difficult jobs in world football. Enrique may have to sacrifice one of the wide players, probably Alexis Sanchez, to bring in a traditional number nine. Juventus forward Fernando Llorente has been mooted as a potential signing, with Sanchez going the other way, and he would fit the bill for a strong centre-forward.

Sergio Aguero and Luis Suarez would require exorbitant transfer fees, but if Barcelona were able to secure either they would boast an attacking triumvirate able to reestablish Barça's dominance immediately.

Enrique has no option but to act fast in the transfer market, given Barça's impending transfer ban. Marc-Andre ter Stegen will replace the outbound Victor Valdes in goal, but other than that Enrique has a relatively blank canvas to work with. He will have to make some difficult decisions, and the turnover of players could be high, with big name casualties.  

Barcelona under Enrique will once again be pleasing on the eye, but the Spaniard's real task is to make Barcelona an effective attacking unit once again. Too often they maintained possession without any thrust or attacking urge, whilst Messi and Neymar were expected to conjure something out of nothing.

The raw materials are there, and with a couple of additions, Barcelona can once again rule Europe under Luís Enrique. 

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Topics:
Neymar
Francesc Fabregas
Barcelona
La Liga
Football
Lionel Messi

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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