Pep Guardiola says Barcelona will miss Luis Enrique after the coach announced he will not manage the club next season.
The 46-year-old confirmed that he will be stepping down at the end of the season following Barcelona’s 6-1 win over Sporting Gijon on Wednesday that saw the Catalans return to the top of the Liga table.
Guardiola, who won three league titles and two Champions Leagues during his time in charge of Barcelona, says he is saddened by the news.
"I have two reactions," he told reporters. "As a Barca fan I am so sad because we are going to miss the perfect trainer for Barcelona, for his personality and character. In his two or three years he played unbelievable football with unbelievable players.
"The second reaction is I understand completely and I wish him the best. As a fan, a member of Barcelona, I say thank you for these three years in my club."
Enrique took over at Barcelona in May 2014 replacing Gerardo Martino and has won the Liga title and the Copa del Rey twice as well as the Champions League during his time at Camp Nou.
However, Barcelona have endured a tougher campaign this time out having trailed Real Madrid in the league for most of the season and facing elimination from the Champions League after a heavy first leg loss to PSG.
Enrique’s contract expires at the end of the season and he admitted his decision to step down had not been taken lightly.
"It is a difficult, measured and well thought-out decision and I think I have to be loyal to what I think," he said.
"I would like to thank the club for the confidence they have shown in me. It's been three unforgettable years."
Real Madrid’s draw with Las Palmas on Wednesday means that Barcelona now top the table in Spain, albeit having played a game more than Zinedine Zidane's side.
Barca now face a potentially pivotal week, in the wake of Enrique's announcement, with Celta Vigo the next visitors to Camp Nou on Saturday before next week’s second leg against PSG.