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New Barcelona coach Valverde huge Messi fan

31 May 2017

Valverde guided Bilbao to a seventh placed finish in La Liga this season and is the ideal man to replace Enrique according to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu. At the Nou Camp he played with Gary Lineker, Ronald Koeman and Michael Laudrup while a young Pep Guardiola was in the Barcelona youth team.

Valverde announced he would be leaving Athletic last week after four years in charge at the Basque club. While Enrique completed the Treble in his first season, followed by a League and Cup Double and winning the Copa del Rey in his final season, there were constant talks of the club being unhappy with his approach.

Luis Enrique took over from Gerard Martino in the summer of 2014 and won nine different titles, including one Champions League, two La Liga titles and three Copa del Rey crowns.

Despite those plus points, however, Valverde will receive little more than a lukewarm welcome from many fans, who are sceptical of his abilities to master the internal politics inherent at such a huge club.

Barcelona hires former player Ernesto Valverde as its coach
In 2001, he took up his first job as a coach at Athletic Bilbao as an assistant before being appointed as head coach in 2003. Valverde spent two seasons at Barcelona as a player from 1988-1990, scoring eight goals in 22 matches.

The La Liga giants are set to begin a new era after the Asturian boss chose to leave his position following three successful campaigns.

"I personally spoke to Valverde and he is very happy and excited about the thrilling challenge that is to coach Barcelona", Bartomeu said.

"Pozanco [I know], the fitness coach from his time at Barcelona".

After returning to Athletic in 2013, he said: "Sequels are never any good".

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Athletic thrashed Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate to win the 2015 Spanish Super Cup.

He will be looking to turn Barcelona into the team to beat in La Liga again, with the Catalans having had to settle for second behind arch-rivals Real Madrid this season. "He has done a great job at all his previous clubs and I think that at Barcelona he will take a big step forward in his career". In 2009, Olympiakos conceded only 14 league goals on their way to the Greek title.

The new coach has been called one of the most successful in the history of football. He guided them to the UEFA Cup final in 2007, when they lost on penalties to Sevilla, but finished mid-table in LaLiga in both of his seasons.

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