Pep Guardiola says he understands why Luis Enrique has opted to leave Barcelona, despite hailing him as the “perfect” coach at Camp Nou.

Barca went top of LaLiga on Wednesday with a 6-1 demolition of Sporting Gijon, but Luis Enrique stunned Catalan fans after the game by announcing he would not extend his contract at the club beyond the end of the season.

Luis Enrique cited a need to rest for his decision, a move that more than echoes Guardiola’s own decision to step down as Barca boss in 2012 after four glittering seasons.

“I have two reactions,” Manchester City manager Guardiola told a news conference.

“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.”

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