Sampaoli? Koeman? Eusebio? The contenders to replace Luis Enrique at Barcelona

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Luis Enrique's decision to leave Barcelona at the end of the season means one of football's most coveted jobs is now open for applications.

The job comes with pressures perhaps unlike any other in the game, with the current incumbent citing the need for rest when announcing his decision to step aside.

Here we examine five of the top candidates to be appointed for next season.

JORGE SAMPAOLI

The fiery Argentine has proven any doubters wrong with a stunning debut season with Sevilla, helping the Andalusian club muscle in on Real Madrid and Barca's title fight. Luis Enrique has even taken leads from Sampaoli this season, recently aping his transitional back-three system - notably to devastating effect in the 6-1 win over Sporting Gijon that immediately preceded the Barca coach's shock announcement.


ERNESTO VALVERDE

Is thought to have been on the radar of Barca's hierarchy for some time and his continued success amid the all-Basque restraints at Athletic Club is mightily impressive. The way the 53-year-old has bought into the sense of identity at San Mames will also be an attractive prospect to a club in Barcelona that is fiercely proud of its Catalan heritage and community.


EUSEBIO SACRISTAN

Former Barcelona B bosses Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova and Luis Enrique himself have all guided the senior team to LaLiga glory in the past decade and Eusebio could well be the next on that particular conveyor belt. Appointing Eusebio would be straight out of the playbook that led to Luis Enrique's hiring. Since taking over from the malaise that David Moyes left at Real Sociedad, Eusebio has turned the Basque club into Champions league contenders.


RONALD KOEMAN

A legend at Camp Nou, Koeman scored the goal at Wembley as Barca won their first European Cup in 1992. The Dutchman has made no secret of his desire to take the top job in Catalonia, but he is just a few months into a three-year contract at Everton that could prove costly to get the former defender out of. 


MAURICIO POCHETTINO

Has worked across town with Espanyol and has shown a penchant for the high-octane, suffocating style that made Barcelona one of the best club sides in history under Guardiola. Pochettino's continued faith in youth will also go down well with some Barca fans, who have grown concerned at the perceived slowing down of the route from La Masia to the first team.


THE OUTSIDERS

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is another high-profile boss out of contract at the end of the season and has said he will manage again if he ends up leaving the Gunners. Former France boss Laurent Blanc - who spent a season at Barca as a player- is available, while ex-Barca youth coach Oscar Garcia - now at Red Bull Salzburg - has been mentioned.

Frank de Boer - sacked by Inter this season - heads a host of former Barca players including Carles Puyol and Xavi to be speculatively connected with the position. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, though, has insisted he will never manage the club again.