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BARCELONA

Barcelona president agrees "three years could be enough for Valverde"

Josep Bartomeu has admitted that Valverde’s tenure could be cut short at the end of the season, amid talk that Holland coach Ronaldo Koeman will come in after Euro 2020.

Barça president agrees "3 years could be enough for Valverde"
Rodolfo Molina DIARIO AS

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has hinted that Blaugrana coach Ernesto Valverde’s time at the club could be nearing its end.

Valverde took over from current Spain coach Luis Enrique at Camp Nou in May, 2017 and his current contract runs until 2021.

However, speaking to Catalan radio programme El Suplement, Bartomeu has suggested that Valverde’s tenure could be cut short at the end of the season.

His comments come at a time when former Barcelona player and current Holland coach Ronald Koeman has been heavily linked with a move to Camp Nou after Euro 2020.

Valverde could leave at end of season – Bartomeu

Barcelona president, Josep Bartomeu, and coach Ernesto Valverde.

After it was put to him by the radio interviewer that Valverde has looked unhappy and “serious” this season, Bartomeu replied: “I have had a lot trainers and they have all been serious – Rijkaard, Martino, Guardiola, Lucho [Luis Enrique], all of them were serious. The responsibility is huge. It demands a lot.

He added: “Here the only option is to win everything. Either you win everything or it's not a good season. But off camera, Ernesto is fun and endearing. There are people who said that Ernesto, Lucho, Pep, Tito [Vilanova] and Tata [Gerardo Martino] were very serious.

“Will Valverde continue next season? He has a contract until 2021, but in spring there is an option through which it could be decided that he doesn’t continue.

“We have it with all the trainers. But his contract… either he or we will decide. What follows depends on many variables. Rijkaard was here five years, Guardiola four, Luis Enrique three.”

Asked if he was saying that three years could be enough for Valverde, the Barcelona president responded: “It could be. But it is a decision that he or the club must make as things go on.”

Barcelona legend Koeman waiting in the wings

All indications are that Ronald Koeman will be the next Barcelona manager.

The pressure is on Valverde to bring Champions League success after the club were booted out of the competition in the latter stages in spectacular fashion in the last two consecutive seasons – first by Roma and then Liverpool, with both opponents managing to overturn large deficits at home following heavy first-leg defeats at Camp Nou.

Those two losses – 4-2 in Rome and 4-0 at Anfield – were a huge embarrassment for the proud Catalan club, both leaving an indelible and shameful mark that can only be mitigated by a return to European glory.

Whether Barcelona manage to retain the LaLiga title or not – which, with Real Madrid on title-winning form this season and neck and neck with their Catalan rivals, is far from a certainty – another year of failure in the Champions League will likely consign Valverde’s fate. 

Barcelona have not won the competition since 2015, which was also the last time they managed to reach the final.

As the pressure grows on Valverde, waiting in the wings is Holland coach and club legend Koeman, who recently said: “It’s a possibility that I could sign for Barça but I won’t think about anything until after the European Championship.”

Koeman has a contract with the Dutch national team until after the Qatar World Cup in 2022. However it was revealed that the former Ajax boss has a special clause in his contract with the Dutch FA, which would allow him to leave after Euro 2020 should Barcelona come knocking.

"Ronald has long indicated that he wants to be Barcelona coach someday. Let's see what will happen,” Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) director Nico-Jan Hoogma confirmed in October.

“Agreements have been made about it. They will have to pay something for him. How much? I'm not talking about that.”