Barcelona fire manager Ernesto Valverde, despite leading La Liga

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"FC Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde have reached an agreement to terminate the contract that united both parties, " the club announced in a statement. Barca were keen to offer him the role until the end of the season with the option to extend for an additional 12 months in the summer, but his agent Edoardo Crnjar pushed for a longer deal.

His team hasn't been able to show consistency in the Champions League due to defense woes, and those problems were again evident on Thursday when Barcelona conceded two late goals to lose to Atletico Madrid, 3-2 in Saudi Arabia.

Setien's appointment may come as a surprise to fans unaware of his previous work, especially given the Camp Nou outfit have been in talks with club legend Xavi about taking the reins in Catalunya.

Setien's first match in charge will see him welcome tenth-placed Granada to Camp Nou on Sunday, January 19.

Valverde arrived two hours early for his last training session with the squad at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper on Monday morning before meeting with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

However, in a stylistic sense at least, Setien should fit in perfectly at Barcelona having been inspired by Johan Cruyff's side while playing against them in the late 1980s.

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Sid Lowe says Quique Setien will be embraced by Barcelona purists because of his style of play. The boss' situation and position has been left very weakened.

The list of possible Valverde replacements also reportedly included former Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino and reserve team manager Javier Garcia Pimienta.

The former Real Betis tactician had been linked with the Blaugrana several times in recent years, as his football philosophy is similar to that of the Catalan side.

It is the first time since 2003 that Barcelona has made a change in the middle of the season. His first season yielded a league and cup double but the campaign was tainted by a shock Champions League elimination to Roma, with the Italians overturning a 4-1 first-leg defeat to progress to the semifinal.

The former Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol manager has guided Barca to LaLiga titles in each of his two full seasons in charge, as well as winning the Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup in 2018.

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