Ernesto Valverde confirmed as Barcelona’s new head coach

Barcelona have named Ernesto Valverde as their new head coach.

Ernesto Valverde confirmed as Barcelona’s new head coach

Valverde, who stepped down as Athletic Bilbao boss last week, had been widely expected to be Luis Enrique’s successor at the Nou Camp and his appointment was confirmed following a Barca board meeting yesterday.

The 53-year-old has agreed a deal at the Nou Camp to take charge for the next two seasons. Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu told a press conference: “Valverde has the ability, judgment, knowledge and the experience. He promotes the youth players and has a Barca way.”

Enrique announced in March this would be his final season at Barca and his last game in charge was the Copa del Rey final win over Alaves.

That was the ninth trophy Barca won during Enrique’s three years in the hotseat, which included league and cup doubles in 2015 and 2016. Barca were unable to make it a hat-trick this season as they finished runners-up in LaLiga to Real Madrid, while in the Champions League they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Juventus.

A host of managers had been touted as possible replacements for Enrique, including Jorge Sampaoli, Diego Simeone and Ronald Koeman, but Valverde emerged as the clear front-runner.

The appointment moved a step closer last week when Valverde left Athletic after four years in charge, and now he has been confirmed as the 56th coach in Barca’s illustrious history.

During his playing days, Valverde spent two years at the Nou Camp under the influential Johan Cruyff and helped the club win the Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup (1989) and Copa del Rey (1990).

Valverde also represented the likes of Espanyol, Athletic and Real Mallorca as a player, while winning one senior cap for Spain, before beginning his coaching career as an assistant at Athletic in 2001.

Since then he has coached Athletic’s reserve side, had two spells in charge of the first team at San Mames, as well as stints at Espanyol, Olympiacos, Villarreal and Valencia.

His most successful period came in Greece, where he led Olympiacos to three domestic league titles and two cups in his two stays at the club, while he also guided Espanyol to the Uefa Cup final in 2007, losing on penalties to Sevilla.

In his four seasons in charge, Athletic have finished fourth, seventh, fifth and seventh respectively in LaLiga, reached the Copa del Rey final and the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Valverde also helped Athletic lift their first silverware in three decades when he masterminded a 5-1 aggregate defeat of Barca to win the 2015 Spanish Super Cup.

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