Valverde named new Barcelona boss

Ernesto Valverde gives instructions to his players Ernesto Valverde gives instructions to his players

Barcelona have appointed former Athletic Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde as their new head coach on a two-year contract.

The Catalans were in the market for a new man in charge following Luis Enrique’s decision to leave the club at the end of the 2016-17 campaign and they have turned to the former Athletic Bilbao boss.

Valverde will be presented as Barca boss at a media conference on Thursday.

“I have spoken personally with Ernesto Valverde and I told him of our decision,” said club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

“He said he is very excited and very happy, that it’s a great challenge to come in as head coach of Barca.

“There is time to talk about why we chose him. We know he has ability, his knowledge and his experience.

“He loves youth football and he has a special style, similar to what we do at Barca. He has philosophy similar to Barca’s and trains the way we like to train.”

Valverde represented Barcelona during his playing career, wearing the Blaugrana jersey between 1988 and 1990.

He moved into coaching at Bilbao’s B side in 2002, before being promoted to head coach of their first team the following season.

He then enjoyed spells at Espanyol, Olympiacos, Villarreal and Valencia before eventually returning to Athletic in 2013.

The 53-year-old announced his decision to leave the Basque side after four years at the helm last week and will continue his career at Camp Nou.

Valverde will be looking to turn Barcelona into the team to beat in LaLiga again, with the Catalans having to settle for second behind arch-rivals Real Madrid this season.

They also missed out on Champions League glory as Juventus proved to be too strong in the quarter-finals, although they did win the Copa del Rey for a third straight season.

Photo: EPA/Toni Albir