Barcelona have sacked coach Ernesto Valverde and replaced him with former Real Betis coach Quique Setien.
The Catalans finally took the decision to part ways with their Basque boss on Monday, January 13. An official statement from Barca reads:
“Agreement between FC Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde to end his contract as manager of the first team. Thank you for everything, Ernesto. Best of luck in the future.”
The press statement also addressed the appointment of former Real Betis boss Setien, 61, who it described as a well-known fan of the Johan Cruyff inspired Barca brand of football.
“Quique Setién will be the new FC Barcelona coach. The man from Cantabria in the north of Spain comes to Barça after having had spells at Racing Santander, Poli Ejido, Logroñés, Lugo, Las Palmas and Betis, his previous club in the 2018/19 season. Throughout his career he has been a proponent of possession based, attacking football that has been attractive to the fans,” the statement noted.
Ernesto Valverde Tejedor is a Spanish retired footballer who played as a forward for over ten seasons in top flight football in Spain, clocking a total of 264 games and 68 goals and adding another 55 matches and nine goals in Segunda División. He played for six teams in a 14-year professional career, including Espanyol, Olympiakos and Athletic Bilbao.
On 29 May 2017, Valverde replaced Luis Enrique as the new Barcelona manager. His spell began with defeat as rivals Real Madrid won both legs of the Spanish Supercup at the season’s outset.
However, the team then went on a 29-match unbeaten run in all competitions from 20 August 2017 until 17 January 2018, when they lost to Espanyol in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the Spanish Cup (also the club’s first defeat at the RCDE Stadium, home of their neighbours, since its 2009 opening).
They recovered to progress in that tie as part of another sequence of 15 matches without defeat, before a loss to A.S. Roma in the last-eight stage of the UEFA Champions League on 10 April, with the final 3–0 meaning the Italians progressed on the away goals rule.
Barcelona remained undefeated for 43 matches in the Spanish League only to lose in their penultimate game of the campaign on 13 May 2018, having rested Lionel Messi for the trip to Levante UD – they were beaten 5–4 by the hosts.
In February 2019, Valverde signed a new one-year contract extension. He led his team to their first Champions League semi-final after a gap of three years, winning 3–0 at home against Liverpool but were downed 0–4 at Anfield in the second leg.
Valverde helped the club to two successive La Liga titles and though they lead the league on goal difference from arch rivals Real Madrid, the Catalan side have produced a series of unconvincing displays under his leadership and even failed to reach the last Champions League final, after much expectation.
Valverde was sacked by Barcelona on January 13, 2020 and replaced by Quique Setien, 61, who led Betis to their highest finish since 2005 and to the Copa del Rey semis before leaving in May last year.
Barcelona are set to present Setien on Tuesday, January 14 and his first match in charge will see him welcome tenth-placed Granada to Camp Nou on Sunday, January 19, 2020.