Barcelona fire coach Ernesto Valverde | News | DW | 13.01.2020
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Barcelona fire coach Ernesto Valverde

The Spanish champions may be top of La Liga, but it was their results in the Champions League that ultimately cost coach Ernesto Valverde his job. The club has appointed Quique Setien as his replacement.

Barcelona has fired coach Ernesto Valverde midway through the season, replacing him with former Real Betis head coach Quique Setien.

"FC Barcelona and Quique Setien have reached an agreement for the latter to become first team coach until 30 June 2022," the Spanish champions said in a statement late Monday. "Setien is one of the most experienced coaches in Spanish football. Throughout his career he has been a proponent of possession based, attacking football that has been attractive to the fans."

Seeking top-level success

The 55-year-old Valverde, who led Barcelona to consecutive La Liga titles in 2018 and 2019, ultimately paid the price for a lack of Champions League success. The Catalans famously blew a three-goal advantage against Liverpool in last season's semifinals of Europe's premier competition, a result Valverde never really recovered from.

Speculation was rife over Valverde's future throughout Monday afternoon, but he was eventually relieved of his duties after a four-hour board meeting at the club's Camp Nou stadium.

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The club statement read: "Barcelona would like to publicly express its gratitude to Ernesto Valverde for his professionalism and commitment."

The 61-year-old Setien will be presented to the fans on Tuesday. During his playing days he represented Atletico Madrid but famously once said: "I would have given my little finger to have played in Johan Cruyff's Barcelona."

Valverde leaves the club midway through the season with the side on top of the Spanish league table. Setien's first game in charge will be at home to Granada on Sunday.

jsi/cmk (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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