BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona fired coach Ernesto Valverde and named former Real Betis coach Quique Setien his successor, a statement said on Monday.
Real Betis coach Quique Setien during the game REUTERS / Marcelo Del Pozo
"FC Barcelona and Quique Setien have agreed that he will coach the first team by June 30, 2022," said the Spanish champions in a statement.
The 55-year-old Valverde, who led Barcelona to La Liga title in 2018 and 2019, has been under pressure this season because the team's performance has deteriorated despite the team leading the championship halfway through the season.
Valverde is the first coach Barca has given up in the middle of a campaign since Louis van Gaal was fired in January 2003 and the team finished 12th overall.
After taking office in 2017, he also won the Copa del Rey in 2018.
Barcelona led the table with 40 points, ahead of second-placed Real Madrid due to goal difference.
Barca is also in the round of 16 of the Champions League and will meet Napoli there.
Although he had an excellent record in the national team, Valverde's reputation was weakened by his failure to win the Champions League. AS Roma suffered shock losses after each goal in 2018 and Liverpool 2019 after a three goal lead.
After a 2-2 draw against Espanyol and a 2-3 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals, the tide seemed to be turning against the coach.
“The club expressly thanks Ernesto Valverde for his professionalism, his commitment, his commitment and his always positive handling of everything that makes the Barca family. We wish him good luck and success in the future, ”said Barcelona.
The 61-year-old Setien coached Real Betis last season, but left the club by mutual agreement after finishing 10th.
The former Atletico Madrid and Racing Santander player is known for his football possession and offensive game plan, which corresponds to the way Barcelona was known in the days of Pep Guardiola.
Setien will be featured in his La Liga home game against Granada on Tuesday.
Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez and Ronald Koeman, both, were approached as successors to Valverde, according to Spanish reports, but did not take on the role.