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Barca prepare for ‘changes’

Madrid: Barcelona are focusing on a sweeping rebuilding effort after the Catalan giants ended the season without major silverware for the first time in six years and coach Gerardo Martino quit.

“We have not achieved our objectives and we cannot be satisfied,” president Josep Bartomeu said. “We will go into a period with profound changes,” he added.

With Martino gone, the way is clear for Barca to appoint Luis Enrique, who stepped down last week after a successful season coaching Celta Vigo, as the Argentine’s replacement.

A former Barca and Spain midfielder, Luis Enrique was filmed last week at his home, meeting with sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, and he is expected to be named in the coming days.

Luis Enrique took over from Pep Guardiola as coach of Barca’s B team in 2008, before a brief and troubled stint at Serie A club AS Roma.

Celta hired him to replace Abel Resino in June last year and the Galician club have impressed under the 44-year-old, playing some of the most attractive football in Spain. He is seen as a Barca insider who will remain true to the club’s possession-based style with its focus on relentless attack.

His first task would be to ensure the squad, which has looked limited at times this season, is strengthened in the right areas.

Among urgently needed reinforcements are a goalkeeper to replace Victor Valdes, at least one centre back and possibly a tall centre forward who can cause problems to opposition defences at crosses and attacking set pieces.

“A cycle has ended and the reality is that we have to make changes,” centre back Javier Mascherano, one of several players who may move on, said.

“The club will make decisions and will create a competitive team,” added the Argentine, who played in midfield before moving to Spain. “A unique era is over. That’s why it hurts so much because you never want a good thing to end.

“I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m very grateful to the club and I’ll leave the day they don’t want me.(Reuters)