May 23, 2017 / 6:56 PM / 2 months ago

Valverde leaving Athletic Bilbao amid Barca speculation

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Football Soccer - Real Madrid v Athletic Bilbao- Spanish Liga Santander - San Mames, Bilbao, Spain - 18/03/17 Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde reacts.Vincent West

LONDON (Reuters) - Ernesto Valverde will not coach Athletic Bilbao next season, the Basque club announced on Tuesday, amid strong reports in Spain that he will become Barcelona's next manager.

Valverde's contract expires in June, like that of current Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, and most expect Valverde to replace the Asturian, who in March announced he was leaving at the end of the season.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu will reveal the board's decision over a new coach next Monday.

Former Barcelona player Valverde, 53, steered Athletic to eighth place in La Liga this season, but has decided to call time on his second managerial stint at the San Mames.

Valverde has coached Bilbao since 2013, previously taking the reins between 2003 and 2005, before being appointed at Barcelona's city rivals Espanyol (2006-08) as well as Olympiacos twice, Villarreal and Valencia.

Reporting by Rik Sharma, editing by Neil Robinson

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