Sampaoli wants to manage Messi: 'Who wouldn't like to coach him?'

Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli has dropped another hint that he would be keen to manage Barcelona one day by acknowledging he'd love to coach Lionel Messi.

Current Barca boss Luis Enrique is out of contract in June and has not yet committed his future to the club beyond the end of the current campaign, leading to reports about potential replacements if he chooses not to renew.

Sampaoli is among the possible candidates, and he refused to rule himself out of the running in an interview on Tuesday.

And now he's added more weight to the suggestions he could one day take over at Camp Nou by talking about his desire to work with his fellow countryman Messi.

"It's a unique opportunity to see the best player in the world up close," Sampaoli told Goal. "Today Messi is in great shape. Who wouldn't like to coach him?

"If you make a player like Messi happy you have 95 percent of the game done. It's like those days when [Diego] Maradona felt fine. It's hard to lose when Leo is fine."

Another name in the frame is Ernesto Valverde, whose Athletic Bilbao side face Barca in the Copa del Rey at San Mames on Thursday.

Speaking during his pregame news conference, Valverde, who spent two years as a player at the Catalan club, tried not to pay too much attention to the link.

"It's not the first time that a manager has been linked with another team," Valverde said. "The same happens with me as with other managers.

"It's normal, it's how it is. A few times a season we get removed from our team and put in another. That's the profession we work in."

Asked about being replaced by Valverde, Luis Enrique was full of praise for the Athletic coach.

"He's one of the best [coaches] in Spanish football and I really like way he coaches football, his ideas, his personality and the way he transmits all that to his players, he's a very good coach," he said.

"You only have to look at the sides he's managed. It's normal that he gets linked with Barcelona, whether for good or for bad reasons, these rumours are normal."

Pressed on if he would renew, Luis Enrique added: "I explained everything in that interview [with Barca TV].

"I talked about my profession and if I have anything else to say with regards to that I will say it, but right now I want to talk about the Copa del Rey game."