Spanish FA (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales has said Spain needed a “new project” after their elimination from the World Cup round-of-16, denying that issues with manager Luis Enrique — or his streaming on Twitch — led to his replacement by Luis de la Fuente.
Former Under-21 coach De la Fuente, 61, was presented as Spain’s new manager in Madrid on Monday after his appointment was approved by the RFEF’s board.
The federation announced last week that Luis Enrique would not be offered a new contract in charge of the national team after a disappointing end to the World Cup in which they were beaten on penalties by Morocco.
The former Barcelona boss attracted attention during the tournament for broadcasting almost daily on the live video streaming site Twitch and posting regularly on Instagram.
“I’ve read a lot of stories, that [it] was his Twitch, that it was his bicycle [rides], things like that,” Rubiales said.
“But there was nothing like that. The three of us, the outgoing sporting director [Jose Molina], the new sporting director [Albert Luque] and I, we agreed we should start a new project, led by Luis de la Fuente. There’s nothing else.
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“The relationship with Luis Enrique is magnificent. We’re very grateful to him. There were different conversations. We always said we’d talk after the World Cup … He didn’t tell me that he wanted to carry on. The conversation went along other lines, that a project was ending and another was beginning.”
Luis Enrique had been in charge of the national team since 2018 — with a break in 2019 following the death of his daughter — reaching the semifinals of the delayed 2020 European Championship and finishing as runners-up in the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League.
De la Fuente had been in charge of Spain’s Under-21s since 2018 and previously worked with the Under-19s, winning the Under-21 Euros in 2019 and a silver medal at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“I was a player for 15 years, 13 years in the first division,” De la Fuente said on Monday, when asked if he lacked the necessary top-level experience for the job.
“I won trophies, I was an international at youth level. I’ve been with the RFEF for 10 years … I’ve worked with 16 of the players who were at the World Cup. If anyone knows the present and future of Spanish football, it’s me.”
Spain’s possession-based style has faced criticism for its supposed lack of cutting edge, with La Roja having been taken to extra time in their last five knockout games at major tournaments.
“One thing is non-negotiable: our idea, our model,” De la Fuente said. “But the system adapts. I’ll try to incorporate concepts and nuances to improve. We aren’t closed off to anything, we’re open to changing when necessary.”
De la Fuente also refused to rule out a return to the international set-up for Sergio Ramos — saying “every player who’s in the right condition is available for selection” — and called Spain captain Sergio Busquets, 34, “living football history.”
“[Busquets] has a lot to offer,” he said. “I’ll be delighted if he wants to carry on.”
Luis Enrique sacked because of need for ‘new project’