The president of the Spanish Football Federation [RFEF], Luis Rubiales, confirmed the appointment of 48-year-old Luis Enrique on Monday afternoon to seal his return to football following a year-long sabbatical since leaving Barcelona.
He will take control of a side in disarray after Spain were dumped out of the World Cup in the last-16 following a penalty shootout defeat by hosts Russia, although that was the very least of their issues as Rubiales sacked head coach Julen Lopetegui a day before the tournament began after he agreed to take the vacant Real Madrid manager’s job.
Luis Enrique has agreed to take the job on a two-year deal, and his first match in charge will be September’s planned Uefa Nations League opener against England at Wembley Stadium.
Speaking at a press conference, Rubiales said that there is no break clause in Luis Enrqiue’s contract, and that he was the unanimous first choice among the board following Lopetegui’s exit and Fernando Hierro’s decision to also leave the Federation.
“We have not spoken to anybody else – only Luis Enrique,” Rubiales said.
The appointment came hot on the heels of Hierro’s decision not to return to his role as technical director, having guided Spain at the World Cup on an interim basis. The Spanish FA also announced that Jose Francisco Molina was replacing Hierro as their new sporting director.
Luis Enrique had been linked with both Arsenal and Chelsea but his large wage demands saw both Premier League clubs turn their attentions elsewhere, with Arsenal ultimately appointing Unai Emery as Arsene Wenger’s replacement despite holding detailed talks with Luis Enrique and Chelsea yet to make a decision on Antonio Conte’s future.
As a player, Luis Enrique won 62 caps for the national team and played at three World Cups, along with winning Olympic gold at Barcelona 1992. Following spells as manager of Roma and Celta Vigo, he took the reins at Barcelona and led the Catalan side to two La Liga titles and the Champions League, before electing to take a sabbatical at the end of the 2016/17 season.