Barcelona Replaces Luis Enrique with Ernesto Valverde 

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Barcelona have confirmed that Ernesto Valverde will be their new coach for the 2017-18 season.

The 53-year-old stepped down after four seasons in a second spell at Athletic Club last week and was widely expected to take over from Luis Enrique this summer.

Barca had promised an announcement after the Copa del Rey final and a statement on Monday confirmed Valverde as the new coach on a two-year deal.

“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.”

Luis Enrique’s three-year tenure yielded nine trophies, including a third successive Copa as Barca beat Alaves 3-1 at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday night.

The Asturian announced at the beginning of May that he would not be renewing his contract and Barca began to look at a number of candidates.

Valverde, twice considered in the past, topped a list that also included Jorge Sampaoli, Ronald Koeman and Luis Enrique’s assistant, Juan Carlos Unzue.

Born in Extremadura, Valverde spent two years at Barca as a player under Johan Cruyff between 1988 and 1990.

As a coach, he won the Spanish Supercopa at Athletic – by beating Barca in 2015 – as well as three Greek titles and two cups with Olympiacos, while he also led Espanyol to a UEFA Cup final in 2007.

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.

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 year.

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