Barcelona, 14 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Barcelona confirmed the sacking of Ernesto Valverde on Monday night and announced Quique Setien as the team’s new coach until 2022.
Valverde won two La Liga titles in his two and a half seasons at the Camp Nou but was frustrated by Champions League defeats to Roma and Liverpool.
A Barcelona statement read: “Barcelona would like to publicly express its gratitude to Ernesto Valverde for his professionalism and commitment.”
The 61-year-old Setien will be presented on Tuesday at the Camp Nou. He played for Atletico Madrid in the mid-eighties but once famously said: “I would have given my little finger to have played in [Johan] Cruyff’s Barcelona.”
He coached Betis into the Europa League two seasons ago but was sacked at the end of last season for failing to build on that success.
The announcement at 23:15 local time brought to a close a dramatic day at the club that began with Valverde turning up early for training and then meeting president Josep Bartomeu.
The Barcelona board then held a lengthy meeting to discuss Valverde’s successor with three names linked to the soon to be vacant post.
Former Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino is a favourite of president Bartomeu but had already ruled out ever coaching the club because of his ties to city rivals Espanyol.
Current B-team coach Francisco Javier García Pimienta was also considered as an emergency option. But ultimately it was Setien who was seen as the safest pair of hands.
The length of Setien’s contract will surprise many, particularly in view of Xavi Hernandez having been the board’s apparent first choice.
After that defeat to Atletico Madrid last Thursday in the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia Barcelona directors Eric Abidal and Oscar Grau took a flight to Doha to offer the job to Xavi.
The former Barcelona captain turned it down and they were left with little choice but to go through with Valverde’s sacking anyway, having undermined him with the approach to Xavi.
Vavlerde had no intention of resigning and will be due the rest of this season’s money and the remaining year on his contract.
He becomes the first Barcelona coach to be sacked mid-season since Louis Van Gaal in January 2003.