Barcelona have announced Ernesto Valverde as their new manager with the 53-year-old handed a two-year contract with the option of an extra season.
Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu announced the new appointment at a press conference on Monday two days after Luis Enrique, who won nine of a possible 13 trophies in three seasons, left the club.
Valverde will be presented officially on Thursday. Bartomeu said: ‘I have spoken to him today and he is very happy because this is a very special challenge for him. He has the capacity, the know-how and the experience to do this job.
‘He has a style of working that fits our club, he loves using the youth system and he is also passionate about new technologies and their application to matches.’
Valverde follows in the footsteps of Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova and Luis Enrique who all previously played for the club before taking over.
They all won the league in their first season and Valverde’s task is to put Barcelona back at the summit of Spanish football after Real Madrid’s title success this season.
He will have very little time to get his feet under the table before facing Real Madrid three times – once on the club’s summer tour and then twice in the two-legged curtain-raising Spanish Super Cup.
Valverde played for Barcelona for two years, from 1998 until 2000. He played 20 games scoring eight goals as a striker and won the Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup, before signing for Bilbao where he spent six years.
His appointment ends a lengthy courting process between him and the club.
He was originally an option when Tata Martino left Barcelona in 2014 but eventually Barca opted for Enrique.
At the start of the season when Enrique told Barcelona’s board that he might not stay beyond the end of the season, they persuaded Valverde not to renew at Athletic Bilboa allowing him to move to the Nou Camp for nothing now.
He brings his own back-room staff with him. Enrique’s No 2 Juan Carlos Unzue has moved to take over at Celta Vigo so Jon Aspiazu with be Valverde’s assistant. He joins from Bilbao as does fitness coach Jose Antonio Pozanco.
This is not Valverde’s first job in the city of Barcelona because he coached Espanyol from 2006 to 2008 where he finished as UEFA Cup runners-up.
He then won three leagues and and two cups with Olympiacos in Greece.
There was one man in particular who commended Barcelona’s appointment and that was former Valencia manager and ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville, who said: ‘Good man and great coach. The only manager in Spain that actually spoke to me pre and post-match.’
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