Ernesto Valverde has been sacked by Barcelona with immediate effect – and has been replaced by Quique Setien.
The Spanish coach has been dismissed, despite winning La Liga in each of his two seasons at the helm, and with the Blaugrana currently topping the table once more – albeit level on points with Real Madrid.
Former star Andres Iniesta stated ahead of the official announcement, “the way the club have gone about things is a little ugly”.
Now Barcelona have confirmed the decision – and have named former Las Palmas and Real Betis boss Quique Setien as his successor on a contract until the summer of 2022. He will be unveiled on Tuesday.
In a statement, Barca said: “FC Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde have reached an agreement to terminate the contract that united both parties.
“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.
Valverde’s position had never been truly secure at Camp Nou, not since the infamous Champions League quarter-final collapse against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in 2018.
While Barca would go on to land a domestic league and cup double, it was made no secret that they would be judged on their European performances in 2018-19.
And once again, Los Cules choked, this time tossing away a three-goal semi-final lead at Anfield, as they flopped to a 4-0 loss against Liverpool .
They would go on to win the league title once more, but more questions were asked of Valverde’s management after losing the Copa del Rey to Valencia.
Players and president Josep Maria Bartomeu came out to publicly back Valverde ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.
But despite securing safe passage into the Champions League knockout rounds and topping the table, pressure increased on the 55 year-old, both from fans unhappy with a style of play overly dependant on Lionel Messi and the board.
Seemingly, defeat in the reformatted Super Cup semi-final against Atletico Madrid, conceding two late goals in a 3-2 defeat, was the final straw for Bartomeu, who, ahead of presidential elections next year, is desperate to bow out having won European football’s premier club crown.
Club icon Xavi Hernandez confirmed reports that he had spoken to sporting director Eric Abidal and chief executive Oscar Grau over the weekend, only to insist he was not interested in taking over his former club at present; Xavi’s decision is seemingly tied to his relationship with Victor Font, the businessman hoping to become president in 2021.
Regardless, Bartomeu has now been dismissed, before the second half of La Liga kicks off this weekend, when Barcelona host Granada on Sunday night.