BARCELONA PRESIDENT SPEAKS ABOUT THE CLUB’S DECISION ON ERNESTO VALVERDE
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu may have hinted under-fire manager Ernesto Valverde will be at the club next season. The former Atletic Bilbao manager has come under fire from pundits and club’s fans after the Blaugrana blew a three-goal against Liverpool in the champions league semi-final.
The La Liga champions went into the game against Liverpool at Anfield with a comfortable 3-0 first-leg lead but suffered a collapse as Liverpool turned the tie by winning 4-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate to qualify for the showpiece at Wanda Metropolitano.
It marked the second successive season Barcelona will go out in similar circumstances. The Blaugrana blew a 4-1 lead in last season’s quarter-finals against AS Roma, going out on away goals rule after losing the return leg 3-0.
Although Barcelona have already wrapped up the La Liga title this season, the champions league was a major priority for the club. But with the club going out again the season, many have called for Valverde’s head and want Ajax manager Erik Ten Hag to replace him.
However, Barcelona’s president Josep Bartomeu has revealed the 55-year-old will still be in charge by next season. “The planning for next season is already underway, and has been for some time,” Bartomeu said at the launch of the ‘Kubala’ book.
“Some players have already signed and we’ll keep having talks after the [Copa del Rey] final. “Valverde said the other day that he has the support of the president and the board.
He’s the coach we want. We’re halfway through a large project. He has a contract and we’re very happy with him. Now it’s about how the players recover from the enormous setback.” Valverde could end up guiding the Catalan club to a second successive domestic double if Barcelona beat Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on 25 May.
“[The final] isn’t the deciding factor [on whether Valverde stays],” Bartomeu said. “The main objective is the league and then we want the Copa or the Champions League.
“It’s been a magnificent season, we’ve won [the league] with games to spare. We all want more. Now we’ve got the Copa final and we’re coming off the back of a damaging defeat. Now it’s about recuperating the support, the excitement, the will to compete and we’ve still got a week of training left.”
Barcelona’s women’s team face Lyon in the Women’s Champions League final in Budapest on Saturday looking to win the tournament for the first time. “To get to a Champions League final, where women’s football has improved so much in the last five years, is a job well done,” Bartomeu said.
“It’s been an objective that has been completed before we had anticipated. We want the club to grow in stature, have success and that [the final] is a hard-fought match in Kubala’s native country.”
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