Ernesto Valverde is out of contract at Barcelona this summer and recent comments to club media have suggested he will leave his post at the end of the current campaign. In his first season in charge he led the club to a domestic double and his side currently sit clear at the top of La Liga.
To many outsiders it may appear surprising that the 54-year-old is under pressure at the Catalan giants considering his successes at the club. After all, his side suffered just one league defeat last season and that was after the Spanish league title had already been wrapped up in convincing fashion.
Real Betis boss Quique Setien is one of a number of candidates who have been linked to replacing Valverde later this year, while Marca say nine names are on the club’s list. A series of former Barca players have been linked to the role including current Monaco boss Thierry Henry, Jordi Cruyff, Xavi Hernandez, Frank de Boer and Ronald Koeman – who is currently in charge of The Netherlands.
The reports come after Valverde told Barcelona TV: “Next season? I do not know my future or what I will be doing at that stage. In football you never know what will happen, things are fluid and you can never allow yourself to think in the long term. When you are in this business, two months is a very long time, thoughts and feelings change on individual results – if you win things are great, if you lose everyone is sad and talking about you.”
Of his 86 games in charge of the Blaugrana, Valverde has won 60 times and lost just seven times – a win rate of over 70%. One of those defeats proved to be very costly – last season’s 3-0 defeat at Roma in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The Spaniard was widely criticised in the Catalan media for his perceived cautiousness and lack of rotation in the defeat. It was mentioned that such was the backlash within the club over just one result, his sacking following that match was discussed.
It does sound crazy for a man who has won both major domestic competitions on offer last season, went within two games of a historic unbeaten league campaign and who has gone through the first half of this campaign in similar fashion. Barca are already five points clear at the top of La Liga despite a series of unconvincing performances.
Valverde knows how to win football matches and trophies, which is precisely why he is so highly valued by Barca. He is not Pep Guardiola and is not an idealist in his playing style, but he has never pretended to be anything else. Should he leave at the end of the campaign having won yet another league title, and potentially more besides, he will be looked upon in future years as being a boss who was deeply underappreciated.
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