Barcelona sack head coach Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona has sacked head coach Ernesto Valverde after two-and-a-half years at the club, with Quique Setien taking over until June 2022.

Valverde becomes the first manager to be dismissed by Barcelona mid-season since Louis van Gaal was sacked in January 2003.

Barcelona currently sits ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga standings on goal difference and was also knocked out in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup on Thursday after a 3-2 defeat to Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona is through to the Champions League round of 16, where they will face Napoli in February.

He (Valverde), previously managed Athletic Bilbao and Valencia, he replaced Luis Enrique in 2017 and has since then won back-to-back league titles during his time in charge. Valverde released a statement on Tuesday morning on Barcelona website.

It read: "My time as @Barcelona FC head coach has come to an end. It has been an intense two-and-a-half year from the beginning. During this time I have enjoyed some joyful moments celebrating victories and trophies and also others that have been tough and difficult.

"However, I would like to highlight my experience with the fans and the affection they have shown to me during my time as a coach."

Valverde Time at Barca (joined May 2017)

Matches played  145
Wins 97
Draws 32
Losses 16
Major Honours La Liga x 2, Copa del Rey, Spanish Super Cup

"I would like to say a very big thank you to the president Joseph Maria Bartomeu and the Board of Directors for giving me the opportunity to coach the first team and their confidence during all this time.

"I would also like to appreciate all the people that I have worked with at this great club for their support and how they treated me during the two and a half seasons, especially those who work in and around the first team and with whom I have shared so many moments at the Ciutat Esportiva and during away trips.

"Of course, I would like to thank all the players for all their efforts that have allowed us to claim four trophies together. From this day, I wish them all the luck in the world and to the new coach Quique Setién also."

New head coach Setien, 61, has had recent success in La Liga, by successfully guiding Las Palmas to survival in 2015, before taking Real Betis into Europe in 2018.
He also led Real Betis to wins over Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid last season, but was sacked at the end of the campaign.

Former players Xavi and Ronald Koeman were approached by Barcelona to take over from Valverde this month, but both turned down the opportunity with reasons best known to them.

Reports has it that Xavi, who is currently in charge at Qatari side Al Sadd, was prepared to take the job at the end of the season, but the Spanish champions decided to opt for an immediate appointment.

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