BARCELONA

Official: Ernesto Valverde sacked, Quique Setién appointed Barcelona coach

The Barcelona board held a meeting on Monday to finalise Valverde’s severance package. Former Betis and Las Palmas coach Quique Setién takes over as coach.

Official: Ernesto Valverde sacked, Quique Setién appointed Barcelona coach

Ernesto Valverde’s tenure as Barcelona coach came to an end on Monday evening after club directors voted in favour of terminating his contract with the club. Valverde supervised this morning’s training session at the Ciutat Esportiva before holding a brief meeting with club president Josep María Bartomeu. Quique Setién has been officially appointed Barcelona's new coach until June 2022.

Directors were called for a crisis meeting shortly after 15:00 hours today and took over three hours to reach a final decision. A statement was expected at 21:00 hours, supposedly to confirming Valverde’s dismissal and Setién’s appointment. That confirmation did not arrive until 23:15 - the club issuing two statements, one to announce Valverde's dismissal and another to confirm Setién's arrival.

Barcelona announced that Valverde was parting company "by mutual consent" and thanked him for "his professionalism, committment and dedication" as well as the "correct and positive attitude" he always showed towards the blaugrana family.

Quique Setién to be officially presented at Barcelona on Tuesday

In a second statement, Barça confirmed that Setién will take over as first team coach for the remainder of this season plus a further two seasons. Setién will sign his contract at 13:30 hours tomorrow and will be officially presented at 14:30 hours at L'Auditori 1899 at Camp Nou.

Valverde leaves with Barcelona as the defending LaLiga champions, topping the table on goal difference and with a Champions League Last 16 tie against Napoli to look forward to next month. He is the first Barça coach to be axed by the club since Louis van Gaal in 2003.

Ernesto Valverde with Arthur Melo in today's training session - his last as Barcelona coach.

Valverde: domestic success, failures in Europe

Valverde arrived at Camp Nou in May 2017 as Luis Enrique’s successor. He signed a two-year contract with the club with the option of a third and extended that arrangement by another 12 months in February last year. While he delivered successive league titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Valverde’s time at the helm grew increasingly more turbulent after a series of damaging results in Europe. First there was the embarrassment of surrendering a 4-1 advantage to Roma in the Champions League quarter finals in April 2018 and worse followed; the 4-0 defeat to Liverpool last season came as such as blow to morale that Barça still haven’t quite recovered. The final straw was last week’s Spanish Super Cup defeat to Atlético Madrid. Apart from two LaLiga titles, Valverde's Barça also won two other domestic trophies - the Copa del Rey (2017-18) and Spanish Super Cup (2018).

Candidates to replace Valverde: 'Not now' from Xavi

Barça put the feelers out for a replacement over the weekend but their invitations were declined by Xavi, who is under contract at Al-Sadd and Ronaldo Koeman, who also has commitments with the Netherlands national team. Other possible replacements emerged this morning included Mauricio Pochettino, Massimiliano Allegri, Roberto Martínez, Thierry Henry, B team coach Francesc Xavier García Pimienta, Gabi Milito and Setién. Leading favourite Xavi did meet with Éric Abidal and Óscar Grau at the weekend but stated that now is not the right moment for him to switch clubs.

Quique Setién will take over coaching duties with the first team squad - at least until the end of the current season. The 61-year-old Cantanbrian coach has almost 20 years’ of coaching experience – almost exclusively at Spanish clubs in the top two divisions. He has been linked to the Barça job several times in the past – most recently during his spell at Betis, his last coaching post. Setién’s teams tend to play a flamboyant, attacking brand of football – an attractive style which he introduced at both Las Palmas and Betis. He was sacked by the Sevilla-based club in May last year, despite his side achieving an impressive double over both Real Madrid and Barça in LaLiga. After leaving Betis, Setién decided to take a sabbatical despite having numerous offers to return to coaching in Spain and abroad.

New Barcelona coach Quique Setién in an archive image

Granada at home - Setién's first game in charge at Barcelona

Setién will take the first team squad through their paces in a double session programmed for tomorrow – at 11:00 hours and 18:00 hours to prepare for his first game in charge - Granada’s visit to Camp Nou on Sunday night.