Barca sack Valverde; Setien announced as replacement

Spanish champions Barcelona have sacked their beleaguered coach Ernesto Valverde and appointed Quique Setien as his replacement.

The decision to remove Valverde was confirmed following a board meeting that lasted more than four hours at Camp Nou on Monday afternoon.

Former Athletic Bilbao manager Valverde is the first coach the club has sacked mid-season since Louis van Gaal in 2003.

“FC Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde have reached an agreement to terminate the contract that united both parties,” read a club statement released on Monday night.

Setien will be presented in a press conference at Camp Nou at 2.30pm local time (1330 GMT) on Tuesday.

“Barcelona and Quique Setien have reached an agreement for the latter to become first team coach until 30 June 2022,” the club said.

“Setien is one of the most experienced coaches in Spanish football,” it added. “Throughout his career he has been a proponent of possession based, attacking football that has been attractive to the fans.”

Setien has a task of restoring the Barca style

His first game in charge will be at home to Granada on Sunday. Barcelona play Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League next month and Real Madrid in the league at the start of March.

Setien has made no secret of his admiration for the stylistic traditions of Barcelona, with the 61-year-old also renowned for favouring an exciting, offensive mode of football.

A former player of Atletico Madrid and Racing Santander, he was circled as a potential Barca coach during a particularly successful period in charge of Real Betis.

Setien led Betis to a sixth-place finish in 2018 and qualification for the Europa League but, despite overseeing a thrilling 4-3 victory at Camp Nou early the following season, results tailed off.

But critics of Setien would argue style often takes precedence over substance and it remains to be seen how he handles the pressure of matching aesthetics with results at one of the world’s most demanding clubs.

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