Monday 23 October 2017

Valverde backed to keep 'Barca way'

Ernesto Valverde has been named as the new head coach of Barcelona. Photo: Heino Kalis/Reuters
Ernesto Valverde has been named as the new head coach of Barcelona. Photo: Heino Kalis/Reuters

Jamie Holland

Barcelona have named Ernesto Valverde as their 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 afternoon.

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, the judgement, the knowledge and the experience. He promotes the youth players and he has a Barca way.

"He was not the only name on the table. From the moment Luis Enrique said he was not going to continue (technical secretary) Robert Fernandez began a search.

"He spoke to a lot of people and studied the market. Many people took part in this decision and we did look at different names but our conclusion was one name and one coach. We know him, we know what he can do."

Enrique announced in March that this would be his final season at Barca and his last game in charge was Saturday's Copa del Rey final victory over Alaves.

That was the ninth trophy Barca had 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 of doubles 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 had emerged as the clear front-runner among Spanish media and bookmakers in recent weeks.

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.

As has become traditional with the Catalan giants, Barca have gone for a man who has links to the club and knows their traditions, expectations and renowned style of football.

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).

Irish Independent

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