January 13, 2020 / 10:18 PM / 11 days ago

Soccer-Barcelona poised to sack Valverde and appoint Setien - media reports

BARCELONA, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Barcelona are on the verge of sacking coach Ernesto Valverde and apppoint former Real Betis coach Quique Setien as his replacement, Spanish media reported on Monday.

Inaki Ibanez, Valverde’s representative, told Spanish television station MEGA the coach is waiting for his exit package to be agreed.

“Ernesto is waiting for them to rescind his contract, it’s not the best moment for any coach,” said Ibanez outside Camp Nou late Monday.

Valverde took charge of training earlier in the day and met with president Josep Maria Bartomeu before a board meeting, in which it was agreed that the coach would be sacked even though the Catalans top the league standings at the halfway point of the campaign.

The 55-year-old led Barcelona to successive La Liga titles in 2018 and 2019 and one Copa del Rey since joining the club in 2017, although his failure to win the Champions League weakened his footing at the club.

A 2-2 draw with bottom-of-the-table Espanyol and last week’s Spanish Super Cup defeat by Atletico Madrid turned the tide against the coach.

Diario Sport and Marca reported Setien has agreed a contract to take over at Barcelona.

Setien, 61, coached Real Betis last season but left by mutual consent after leading the club to a 10th-place finish.

The former Atletico Madrid and Racing Santander player is known for his possession football and attacking gameplan, which suits the way Barcelona were known for playing in the iconic Pep Guardiola era.

Setien’s Betis beat Barcelona 4-3 to become the first team in over two years to win at the Camp Nou in November 2018. (Reporting by Rik Sharma, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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