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How would Chelsea look under Luis Enrique?

Dean Carr 9 Feb 2018
  • Luis Enrique is favourite to take the Chelsea job in the summer
  • The 47-year-old has been out of work since leaving Barcelona last year
Luis Enrique during his time as Barcelona boss

Antonio Conte’s spell at Chelsea will almost certainly come to an end following the conclusion of this season, with the reigning champions unable to live up to the standards set last term. The disharmony has been compared to the season after Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea team won the title, with the Italian now ready, it seems, to leave Stamford Bridge a year before the expiration of his contract.

Luis Enrique has been touted as the man to be the latest in the hot seat at Stamford Bridge, with the former Barcelona boss now looking to return to management after a year out.

With a Champions League winners medal to his name as a coach, Enrique has the kind of profile and cache Roman Abramovich usually looks for in a manager, though it remains to be seen how he is able to cope in the Premier League. Enrique’s first spell as a manager out of Spain came in 2013/14 with Roma, where he lasted just a season at the Stadio Olimpico following a 7th-placed finish in Serie A.

A more successful three-year stint at Celta Vigo followed, before Enrique then made his return to the Nou Camp, having spent eight years as a  player with the club from 1996-2004. Enrique’s spell at Barcelona was perhaps overshadowed - and undermined by some - thanks to the iconic ‘MSN’ strike force at his disposal, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all starring for his team.

The trio fired a combined 108 goals during the historic treble-winning season for Barcelona, claiming the Champions League, La Liga and Copa Del Rey titles in style, the former coming against Juventus in a 3-1 win. As such, questions may well be asked of Enrique and what he can do without arguably the greatest front three assembled by a European team. In current form, no players in this Chelsea team come close to that Barcelona squad.

However, it would be naive to underestimate Enrqiue’s role in that success, as he was able to find a system to accommodate all three players and create a culture in which all three were able to thrive alongside each other, whilst also getting their fair share of the spotlight.

Should the Spaniard take over at Stamford Bridge in the summer, there are going to be multiple changes made to this squad - some wanted, others maybe not. Thibaut Courtois recently revealed ‘his heart is in Madrid’, the timing of which comes just months before a summer transfer window where Real Madrid are expected to make a splash in the market, with a new goalkeeper on their wishlist.

Eden Hazard’s future is also a topic of discussion, with Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Barcelona all believed to be monitoring his situation at Stamford Bridge. The Belgian international is now entering the peak years of his career and will want to be competing for league titles during it, something Chelsea haven’t looked anything close to doing this season.

David Luiz and Gary Cahill may well be set to leave in the summer, while Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater and Tiemoue Bakayoko could all well be unsafe following disappointing debut seasons in England. Chelsea’s 3-4-3 shape is unlikely to continue once Conte leaves, with Enrique preferring the 4-3-3 system to this point of his career, much in the Barcelona mould.

Both Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have shown potential of being capable to be regulars in this Chelsea side, but signing an experienced, dominant centre-back could be the main priority for Enrique. Chelsea have made unsuccessful attempts for Leonardo Bonucci and Virgil van Dijk in the past 12 months and remains a problem area for the team.

Enrique’s arrival may well provide something of a culture shock at Chelsea during the early stages, with the Spaniard’s ideology of football and methodology of producing it being the polar opposite to Conte’s regimented, disciplined style.

As his Barcelona team highlighted, Enrique encourages his sides to play with freedom and expression, which could get the very best out of players such as Hazard if he remains. There will be less emphasis on defensive shape and more focus on what they can do with possession of the ball. There have been occasions this season where Conte has perhaps shown too much respect to their opponents, most notably in Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat to Manchester City at Stamford Bridge, which lacked the fortitude of a side that had won the Premier League just months beforehand.

The appointment would fit in with Chelsea’s ‘on the fly’ approach to appointing managers under the Abramovich regime, going from one extreme to the next in the hope of a short-term fix, before ultimately moving on to the next one in three years time.

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How would Chelsea look under Luis Enrique?

With Luis Enrique the favourite to take the Chelsea job in the summer, we look at what could change under the Spaniard at Stamford Bridge.

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