Reports: Barcelona close to appointing Luis Enrique's replacement
What’s the story?
Ernesto Valverde will become the next Barcelona manager according to sources close to Pep Guardiola. The Manchester City manager has reportedly told people close to him that the Catalan club will be appointing the Athletic Bilbao manager as their next manager.
Sky Sports' La Liga expert, Guillem Balague has also reported that Valverde will be the next Barcelona. He said, “Athletic Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde, whose contract at the San Mames Stadium expires at the end of the season, is the top priority. He [Valverde] has said no to the job twice. To say no a third time would be very difficult and with his contract up at the end of the season the timing is good too.”
Balague went on to explain why Valverde is the ideal person to take over at Camp Nou. “They would like, first of all, someone who knows the club well and ideally who has played at Barcelona and understands the club well. They also require someone who can deal with the media, and of course who can respect the Barcelona DNA and style. Valverde fits all of the above and what he has done at Bilbao is amazing.” said the La Liga expert.
In case you didn’t know...
Luis Enrique has decided not to renew his contract at Barcelona. The former Celta Vigo manager's contract at the club ends this summer, and the Blaugrana are on the hunt for a replacement.
They are said to be looking for a manager who has a connection with the club and Valverde has played for Barcelona for two seasons. He played for the Catalan club from 1988 to 1990, winning Copa del Rey and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in the short spell.
Barcelona have approached Valverde twice before, but he turned down the offer on both occasions. Real Madrid reportedly tried to sign him after sacking Rafa Benitez. They appointed Zinedine Zidane only after Valverde chose to stay at Bilbao.
The heart of the matter
Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed earlier this week that the club would be appointing a 'super coach' in the summer to replace Enrique. The search seems to have come to an end with Valverde being the choice.
The 53-year-old, who currently manages Athletic Bilbao, will be finishing his contract at San Mamés when this season ends. He has also managed the likes of Espanyol, Villarreal, Olympiacos and Valencia and the Barcelona board see him as an ideal replacement for Enrique.
The Barça board reportedly tried to get Jorge Sampaoli after Lionel Messi recommended him. But the Sevilla manager, who has one more year left in his contract, has refused to leave Los Nervionenses. Sampaoli shot down rumours of him taking up the Camp Nou post by saying “The Barcelona job? That question has no answer because it doesn't exist. I am connected with this sporting project at Sevilla to death.”
Barcelona are highly likely to appoint Valverde in the summer. The 53-year-old will be available for free and with a Barcelona connection, he's now the club's #1 choice for the managerial post.
Valverde has done a tremendous job at Bilbao and would be an ideal replacement for Enrique. Barcelona need a manager with fresh ideas and tactics, Valverde will provide just that.