Pep Guardiola described Luis Enrique as “the perfect trainer” after the Barcelona head coach announced he would step down at the Nou Camp at the end of the season.
Manchester City manager Guardiola, himself formerly in charge of the famous Catalan club, had already moved to kill off any speculation that he might be temped back to Barca.
But after his team beat Huddersfield 5-1 to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday, Guardiola spoke warmly about Enrique and his place in Barcelona history.
“I have two reactions,” said Guardiola. “My first is like a Barcelona fan -- because it is the club of my heart -- and I am so sad.
“We are going to miss the perfect trainer for Barcelona -- his personality, his character. He has had two or three years and played some unbelievable football with unbelievable players.
“The second point is if he decided that, I can understand him completely and of course I wish him the best luck. And finally, like all the membership from Barcelona, I want to say thank you for all you have done in these three years at my club.
“As an FC Barcelona fan, it is sad because there are few managers in the world better than Luis Enrique.
“He is a master because as manager of FC Barcelona you must take tough decisions there and his team has played with the best for the last two or three years.
“I still think they are the best team in the world and I am upset he is not going to be there but I understand because I was there myself before and I wish him the best.”