Barcelona finally made the move that everyone in the soccer world was expecting for some time. The club confirmed on Monday that they have fired their manager Ernesto Valverde, naming former Real Betis’ boss Quique Setien as his replacement.
Despite Barca sitting at the top of La Liga and advancing to the Champions League knockout stage, Valverde was on the hot seat for some time now. The team struggled in some key games lately, failing to win against lesser opponents like Espanyol, which allowed their biggest rivals Real Madrid to return in the race for La Liga title. Barcelona also suffered a defeat in Super Cup against Atletico Madrid despite having a lead, which presumably sealed Valverde’s fate.
According to reports from European media outlets, Barca’s first choice for Valverde’s successor was club legend Xavi, who is currently the manager of Al Sadd SC. But after Xavi rejected the opportunity to take over the club mid-season, the front office turned to Setien, who was a candidate for the position on some earlier occasions.
Setien spent the majority of his career coaching in native Spain, where he led teams like Racing Santander, Lugo, and Las Palmas. His biggest success came with Real Betis, leading the team to a sixth-place finish in 2017/18 La Liga season.
Ernesto Valverde leaves Barcelona after two and a half seasons with the club. During that time, he won four trophies, including two La Liga titles. Valverde previously coached Olympiacos, Valencia, and Athletic Bilbao, among other clubs.