In a shock move, Spanish heavyweights and 24-time La Liga champions Barcelona have announced Ernesto Valverde as their new manager, replacing the highly-beloved Luis Enrique.
Barcelona were thrown into turmoil last March, when Enrique announced in a press conference that he is set to leave his job at the Catalan capital after three “unforgettable” seasons of service, “to rest.” Many high-profile names were thrown in the mix during that time, with then Sevilla manager Jorge Sampaoli the favourite to replace Enrique. Other notable names included Everton’s Ronald Koeman and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger.
However, after three months of speculation, the Blaugrana have settled on a former Athletic Bilbao and Olympiacos head coach as their new main man.
The 53-year-old tactician was announced as Barca’s new manager on Monday, with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu confident of Valverde’s abilities, saying, “Valverde has the ability, the knowledge and the experience.
“He promotes players from the youth teams and he has a style and a way of working like ours. He has a philosophy of the game that is very Barca and he is a hard worker. Also, he is passionate about applying technology to both training and matches,” the Barcelona supremo added.
While the whole Catalan outfit have thrown themselves in full support of their new boss, many in the great footballing world is probably wondering: Just who is Ernesto Valverde and why is he the new Barcelona head coach?
History of Ernesto Valverde
After a 14-year career playing football, Valverde eventually entered into management, with his first full-time stint as Athletic Bilbao manager in 2003. In his first season, he was able to lead Bilbao to an impressive fifth-place finish in the league, thus helping them qualify for the UEFA Cup. After a brief stay in Bilbao, he moved to Espanyol, once again leading the club to European qualification and even helped them reach the UEFA Cup final, although they ultimately lost to another Spanish team, Sevilla.
But his most successful stint came with Olympiacos. Valverde was able to win the league and cup double in his first season as a coach in 2008. Since then he would also manage the likes of Villareal and Valencia before eventually signing back on as Bilbao coach in 2013. Two years later, he would lead Bilbao to their first ever trophy in more than three decades by winning 5-1 on aggregate against Barcelona to win the Spanish Supercup.
While it’s easy to see that Valverde has the credentials to potentially lead Barcelona to success, his managerial methods, especially when it comes to nurturing home-grown talent, has been remarkable.
Athletic Bilbao are a strict club that only sign Basque-born players. Valverde has taken on that challenge and have given chances to the likes of Aymeric Laporte, Inaki Williams, and Inigo Lekue. Even Ander Herrera, who is currently flourishing at Manchester United, has been a fruit of Valverde’s labours at Bilbao.
With enough potential to lead Barcelona to trophies galore, and a knack for developing home-grown talent, Ernesto Valverde appears to be a perfect fit to become Barcelona boss. Of course, whether he turns that potential into real success in the coming future, of course, remains to be seen.