Barcelona already have a shortlist for their next boss and are 'fans' of Mauricio Pochettino

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Guillem Balague reacts to the news that Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique has said he will not be in charge next season

Barcelona have already started the search for Luis Enrique's replacement and are "big fans" of Mauricio Pochettino's work, says Guillem Balague.

Enrique made the shock announcement that he's walking away from Barcelona in the wake of Wednesday night's 6-1 La Liga victory over Sporting Gijon.

The 46-year-old confirmed that he has decided to step down when his contract expires this summer.

Barcelona's coach Luis Enrique looks on before the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Real Sporting de Gijon at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelon
Image: Who will be Luis Enrique's replacement?

Attention has already turned to who is set to replace Enrique and Balague has revealed that the club's hierarchy have already drawn up a shortlist of candidates.

Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli is the early favourite with the bookmakers, but Balague thinks Barca will look to appoint someone who already has an association with the club or the city.

Everton's Ronald Koeman, who was a key man in Johan Cruyff's very successful Barcelona team as a player, is second favourite, while Pochettino is also among the market leaders.

Although he signed a five-year deal with Spurs in the summer, Pochettino spent over a decade in Barcelona as a player and manager with Barca's city rivals Espanyol and he reportedly still owns a home there.

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"The club have got a shortlist, they've spoken to people," Balague said.

"They left out their impressions on coaches who are already in jobs and some that are at the end of their contracts. Some of them, I'm sure, have already been given the call. It includes Ernesto Valverde and Laurent Blanc.

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Highlights from Barcelona's 6-1 win over Sporting Gijon from the Nou Camp in La Liga

"I know that Pochettino has got a lot of fans at Barcelona.

"Jorge Sampaoli is pushing himself but every time I ask the club they say he's not the man because they want somebody who understands the club, either by being a player there or just being close to the club. There's mention of Ronald Koeman of course, Eusebio Sacristan has just extended his contract at Real Sociedad.

"Top of that list could be Laurent Blanc or Ernesto Valverde."

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