Luis Enrique was appointed as the new coach of Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday on a two-year deal, but his unveiling was overshadowed by ongoing questions about the future of Kylian Mbappe.
The 53-year-old former Barcelona coach, who had been a free agent since being sacked by Spain last December, replaces Christophe Galtier after his departure was confirmed earlier in the day.
Luis Enrique was unveiled at a press conference alongside the Qatar-backed club’s president Nasser al-Khelaifi at their new training complex in Poissy, north-west of the French capital.
“I’m delighted to be joining Paris in order to enjoy a new experience,”
“It’s so exciting to meet new people, to live in this city, to learn a new language and, above all, to manage PSG.”Luis Enrique said in a club statement.
Yet when asked whether he had been given any guarantees that superstar forward Mbappe would remain at the club for the coming campaign, he was evasive.
The Spaniard later insisted he was “counting on all the players who are under contract”.
However, Khelaifi stated that Mbappe, 24, “must sign a new contract” if he wants to remain at PSG in the coming season.
“The position is very clear. If Kylian wants to stay, he must sign a new contract. We can’t let the best player in the world today leave for free. It’s impossible,”
“He said he would not leave for free. If somebody has changed his mind, that is not my fault.”Khelaifi said.
Mbappe declared last month that he would not extend his contract, which expires next year.
The club must therefore sell the player in the current transfer window, otherwise they will likely lose him for nothing when his deal ends.
Real Madrid hoped to sign Mbappe a year ago before he penned a new contract in Paris. The Spanish giants are favourites to secure the striker if he does eventually change clubs.
The new coach is the eighth man to lead the club since the transformative Qatari takeover of 2011 and, like those before him, will be charged with bringing them the success in the Champions League that has so far proved elusive.
PSG have never won Europe’s most prestigious club competition, coming closest when they lost in the 2020 final to Bayern Munich.
They have gone out in the last 16 in five of the last seven seasons, losing to Bayern at that stage in the most recent campaign. That defeat proved costly for Galtier.
Good news for Neymar?
Luis Enrique arrives with pedigree in the Champions League, having won it as coach of Barcelona in 2015 with a brilliant team led by an attack of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.
He now joins a club beginning their latest rebuild following the departure of Messi after his two-year stay.
The identity of the new coach could be good news for Neymar, who has been linked with a move away from the Parc des Princes.
The Brazilian enjoyed three outstanding years under Luis Enrique at the Camp Nou, in which time Barca won La Liga twice, the Copa del Rey three times, a UEFA Super Cup and a Club World Cup as well as the Champions League.
Several high-profile new signings are expected to be confirmed as PSG prepare to start pre-season training, with a tour to Japan scheduled for later this month.
Paris will begin their defence of the Ligue 1 title against Lorient on the weekend of August 12 and 13.
Luis Enrique left Barca in 2017 and became Spain coach in 2018. However, he quit in June 2019 and announced the death of his nine-year-old daughter from bone cancer two months later.
He returned to the Spain post in November of that year and took them to the Euro 2020 semi-finals and the 2021 UEFA Nations League final before being fired after their elimination from last year’s World Cup in the last 16 in a penalty shoot-out against Morocco.
Galtier had only been in charge for one season and still had a year to run on his contract, but his departure had been expected.
He led PSG to the league title but that success was overshadowed by their exit from the Champions League.
The final weeks of Galtier’s reign were also marred by accusations that he made racist remarks about players during his previous job at Nice.
He has vehemently denied the accusations but will stand trial in the case in December.