Barcelona’s Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez celebrates a goal during the UEFA Champions League football match FC Barcelona vs Celtic FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 13, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE
Luis Suarez admitted he and his Barcelona team-mates were caught off-guard by coach Luis Enrique’s announcement that he will leave his position at the end of the season.
Former Spain international Enrique confirmed he would walk away from the Nou Camp when his contract expires in the summer in the wake of Wednesday’s 6-1 rout of Sporting Gijon.
The win sent Barca a point clear of Real Madrid at the top, albeit having played one game more, and the Catalan giants will look to bid their coach farewell with a third league title in as many seasons.
“It has surprised us a little, we didn’t expect it but it is an understandable decision and one that we accept,” Suarez told Barcelona’s club website.
“The job of coach is very difficult and requires lots of hours of hard work and he has to enjoy being with his family as well.”
Enrique cited the daily grind of the pressure as Barca boss and insisted he needed time to rest as he explained on Wednesday the reasons behind his decision to step down.
However, it was the sudden nature of his announcement rather than the decision to leave that shocked the most.
“In the summer he already told us he was considering this could be his final year,” said Barca president Maria Josep Bartomeu.
The 46-year-old Enrique has overseen the best part of three trophy-filled but turbulent seasons since replacing Gerardo Martino in 2014.
He won the Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey in his first season as Barca claimed an unprecedented second treble in 2015, matching their feat from six years under Pep Guardiola.
Barca then retained both their league crown and domestic cup title last year.