With Barcelona preparing to face Sevilla in tonight's Copa del Rey final in Madrid, the atmosphere at the team camp in the Spanish capital was this morning rocked by Mundo Deportivo's revelations over the future of coach Ernesto Valverde.
Valverde could go even if Barcelona win double, says MD
The well-connected Barcelona-based daily says club chiefs were deeply unimpressed by Valverde's approach in this month's surprise Champions League exit in Rome, and that defeat to Sevilla "could leave him in danger" of losing his job.
Indeed, MD suggests that Valverde's position could still be in doubt even if Barça win the Copa at the Wanda Metropolitano and - with the Catalans just one win away from clinching the LaLiga title - all but seal a domestic double.
Barcelona vice-president Jordi Cardoner sought to play down the claims this afternoon, telling Cadena SER: "The answer is there is no doubt over his future."
Players and coaching staff bewildered by revelations
However, the damage had been done.
The report stunned the club's coaching staff and players, the vast majority of whom are firmly behind Valverde. Players and coaches alike were left expressing their bewilderment at what they feel to be a totally unnecessary message from the board to the squad just hours away from a cup final.
Speaking as he arrived for the traditional pre-final directors' lunch, Barça president Josep María Bartomeu avoided comment on the issue, saying only that the team are "raring to win a fourth [straight] Copa", and adding: "The fans are excited, Sevilla will be tough opponents and it'll be a close-fought match."