Barcelona sack Valverde, rope in Setien as new coach

BARCELONA, Oct. 25, 2018 (Xinhua) — Jordi Alba (Front) of Barcelona celebrates his goal during a group B Champions League match between FC Barcelona and Inter Milan in Barcelona, Spain, on Oct. 24, 2018. Barcelona won 2-0. (Xinhua/Joan Gosa/IANS)

Madrid, Jan 14 (IANS) Barcelona have sacked head coach Ernesto Valverde and roped in former Real Betis coach Quique Setien as his replacement.

In a statement on Tuesday, the club said: “FC Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde have reached an agreement to terminate the contract that united both parties.”

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

Valverde, who led Barcelona to successive La Liga titles in 2018 and 2019, has been facing criticism for the team’s dip in performance levels this season even though they top the league standings at the halfway point of the campaign.

“The club publicly expresses its gratitude to Ernesto Valverde for his professionalism, his commitment, his dedication and his always positive treatment towards all that make up the Barca family. We wish him luck and success in the future,” Barcelona said.

Valverde was coach of the FC Barcelona first team for 163 official games, winning 108, 35 draws and 20 defeats. During that time he has claimed four trophies as coach: two La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey and a Spanish Super Cup.

His spell as coach began in the summer of 2017 when he took over at the club following four seasons with Athletic Club de Bilbao. After losing out to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup in his debut as manager, he ended the season claiming a league and cup double, beating Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final in the Wanda Metropolitano whilst in the Champions League they lost out to Roma in the quarter finals.

His second season at Barcelona began with victory in the Spanish Super Cup against Sevilla in Morocco. The blaugranes also retained their league title, clinching the league at Camp Nou against Levante. The end of the campaign brought moments of disappointment with Barca losing in the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool and in the final of the Copa del Rey against Valencia.

Meanwhile, 61-year-old Setien comes to Barcelona after having had spells at Racing Santander, Poli Ejido, Logrones, Lugo, Las Palmas and Betis, his previous club in the 2018-19 season.

As a player, Setien was a midfielder who excelled with Racing Santander over 12 seasons in two separate spells. He also featured for Atletico Madrid where he won the Spanish Super Cup as well as enjoying spells at Logrones and Levante.

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