Luis Enrique is on Manchester United's shortlist of candidates to become the club's permanent manager this summer, sources have told ESPN, with the Spain coach regarded by the Old Trafford hierarchy as possessing the technical credentials and winning track record to bring success back to the club.
The 51-year-old, who guided Barcelona to a Champions League, LaLiga and Copa del Rey treble in 2015, is being considered along with Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag by United's owners, the Glazer family, and recently-appointed chief executive Richard Arnold. Sources have said that other coaches are being assessed, but Luis Enrique, Pochettino and Ten Hag are the names being most seriously considered by United at this stage.
Luis Enrique appeared to dismiss the prospect of a move to United when, after being asked about speculation linking him to the job last November, he suggested it was April Fool's Day.
But although he is under contract with Spain until the end of the country's involvement in the World Cup later this year, his reputation as a coach who plays attractive, attacking football, but also one who imposes discipline on his squad, has attracted him to United.
Luis Enrique's background as a top-class player, who played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as his experience of coaching world-class players with Barcelona and Spain has also made him a leading contender for the United job.
United have been without a permanent manager since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was dismissed last November, a month short of his third anniversary in the job, following a run of 7 defeats in 13 games, including a 5-0 Premier League loss at home to Liverpool.
Michael Carrick took charge for three games as caretaker manager in the immediate aftermath of Solskjaer's departure before Ralf Rangnick, the former Schalke, Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig coach, was installed in December as interim manager until the end of the season. Rangnick is due to take a two-year consultancy role following his temporary spell in charge and will help advise the club in its search for a permanent manager.
United have held a long-term interest in Pochettino and had favoured the Argentine, then Tottenham manager, as a replacement for Jose Mourinho after dismissing the Portuguese coach in December 2018, but Solskjaer's initial success as interim manager led to his permanent appointment and Pochettino remained at Spurs until being sacked in November 2019.
Sources have told ESPN that Pochettino would be interested in the United job, but with his PSG contract due to run until June 2023, any move to Old Trafford could be complicated by a drawn out compensation battle with the French club.
Ten Hag is also under contract at Ajax until June 2023, but that is less likely to prove an issue for United due to a long-standing relationship with the Dutch club and an acceptance at Ajax that their best coaches and players will seek moves to Europe's major leagues and clubs.
Luis Enrique's contractual situation with Spain may prove to be a significant issue due to their involvement in the World Cup, but United are not prepared to discount him as a candidate without exploring the possibilities surrounding his commitments to the national team.
Sources have said that United will undertake a comprehensive process of identifying the right manager before settling on their No. 1 choice and that nobody is yet regarded as the favourite to succeed Solskjaer.