Shock Barcelona candidate emerges as trio of stalwarts back him to replace Luis Enrique

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Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta and teammates Ivan Rakitic and Gerard Pique have backed assistant coach Juan Carlos Unzue to take over from Luis Enrique.

Enrique confirmed his intention to step down from the position earlier this month, but he remains on course to deliver more silverware in what has been a trophy-laden stint in charge of the Catalan giants.

However, Barca will have now begun the process of considering successors, and there is a name emerging from within the current set-up that is gathering support from prominent members of the squad.

Unzue is one of two leading candidates to be appointed the next Barca coach, as reported by The Telegraph, with Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde also in contention.

While Valverde also has his history with Barca, Unzue is a former goalkeeper for the club and has worked as the goalkeeping coach between 2003 and 2010 as well as for the 2011/12 season before he joined Enrique’s regime as his number two in 2014.

In turn, he ticks a lot of boxes for what Barca look for in their coaches, namely an understanding of how the club operates and the traditions and rules in place to adhere to.

“Unzue knows everything about the club very well and how it works, he worked at the club for a long time and is working with us now. He’s a qualified and experienced coach and is now excited about finishing the season and helping us meet our objectives,” Iniesta said.

Both Pique and Rakitic echoed those sentiments and revealed that they have strong relationships with Unzue, which in turn surely has to resonate with the club’s hierarchy when they make their decision this summer.

In many ways it’s a risk as Unzue hasn’t proven himself in a top job as of yet. However, Barca have a history of giving their former players an opportunity, and he could be the next man to receive one.

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