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Barcelona Fires Ernesto Valverde, Replaces With Real Betis’s Quique Setien

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Quique Setien has been announced as FC Barcelona’s new head coach.

Quique Setien

Minutes after Ernesto Valverde’s dismissal was made official, the club rushed to welcome the 61-year-old on its Spanish and Catalan language social media accounts before their English counterpart later followed suit.

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At a press conference held by club president Josep Bartomeu and director of football Eric Abidal on Tuesday morning, it is believed that Setien will be unveiled and assumes one of soccer’s most high-profile roles with immediate effect.

In doing so, he replaces the ousted Valverde who after a dramatic turn of events triggered by a 2-3 Spanish Super Cup semi final defeat to Atletico Madrid on Thursday, had his two-and-half-tenure brought to a halt.

It was relatively successful, bringing two La Liga titles to Catalonia in addition to a Copa del Rey and Super Cup, but Valverde paid for two consecutive failures in the Champions League quarter finals and semi finals to Roma and Liverpool respectively which many fans wanted him gone for in the summer.

Relieved of his duties despite Barça topping La Liga and claiming the UCL’s Group F heading into 2020, Valverde suffered just one league defeat at the Camp Nou which was, coincidentally, to Setien’s Real Betis in a thrilling 3-4 affair in November 2018.

Yet he wasn’t the Blaugrana’s first choice.

Courted from Friday onwards when Abidal and CEO Oscar Grau flew to Doha, Xavi Hernandez turned down an offer of two-and-a-half years which Setien eventually took on Monday evening – though some reports have stated that his contract runs for just six months initially with an option to extend twice more year-by-year.

Club legend Ronald Koeman also giving a stern ‘no’, Setien is still believed to possess the all-important ‘Barça DNA’ demanded by those connected to it whilst also a noted admirer of Lionel Messi.

‘There’s only one player I’ve known that has the ability to really decide games on his own, and play wherever. That’s Messi,’ remarked Setien in an interview shortly after the aforementioned win.

‘When you have a footballer like that, who can do it on his own, there’s nothing to say’, he continued. ‘The other 10 are going to say “let him do what he wants, he’s going to make us better, and we’ll win more matches.” But there’s only one. Everyone else has a role, has to maintain the structure. And if you have a player who keeps drifting outside the system, you have to remove him. No matter how good he is. If you win games on your own, fine, but since you don’t, you make me lose balance. And balance is essential – above anything,’ it was concluded, in a strong indicator as to how he may build a team around his Argentine crack.

Now, Setien will be charged with extracting the best possible form from the six-time Ballon d’Or winner in his twilight years and guaranteeing him a successful club career end. If not, recent history has shown that patience runs short at his new employers and a substitute can be sought at any given moment.

In the meantime however, Setien will attempt to get off on the right foot in his first official match as new manager when Barça host Granada at home in La Liga on Sunday.


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