Luis Enrique to step down as Barcelona boss at end of season

Johannesburg [South Africa], Mar. 2 (ANI): Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has ended speculation over his future, announcing that he will step down at the end of the season, thus bringing down the curtain on three years as head coach.

"I will not be the coach of Barcelona next season," Sport24 quoted Enrique as saying after Barca's 6-1 thrashing of Sporting Gijon in La Liga on Wednesday.

"It is a difficult, measured and well thought out decision and I think I have to be loyal to what I think," added Enrique whose contract is due to expire at the end of the season.

During his three years stint as Barcelona coach, he won eight trophies, including a treble in his first campaign and a La Liga and Copa del Rey double last season.

But they are on the verge of elimination from the Champions League after losing 0-4 to Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16 first leg.

"There are three exciting months ahead," Enrique said. "We are in a difficult situation, especially in one competition, but with the help of everyone and if the stars align we can turn that game around."

"I will give my full dedication in these three months," he added.

Enrique insisted that the pressure of the top at the Camp Nou was the main reason for him to step down.

"The reason is the way in which I live this profession. It means very few hours of rest."

Enrique followed in the footsteps of former team mate Pep Guardiola, who stepped down after four glorious years in charge of Barca in 2012.

The former Barcelona captain featured for the club between 1996 and retired from playing in 2004.

Guardiola, who is currently Manchester City manager, paid tribute to Enrique's three "unbelievable" years in charge.

"As a fan, I'm sad we'll miss @LUISENRIQUE21, the perfect trainer for @FCBarcelona. His three years they have played unbelievable football," Guardiola posted on Twitter.

Unless Barca stage an unlikely comeback against PSG on March 8, Enrique's final game in charge will be against Alaves in the Copa del Rey final on May 27. (ANI)