A change had been on the cards since Barca CEO Oscar Grau and sporting director Eric Abidal travelled to Qatar for talks with Xavi on Friday, in the aftermath of the club’s 3-2 Supercopa defeat to Atletico in Saudi Arabia the previous day.
And even though no agreement could be reached for the club’s former midfielder to take over, the 39-year-old expressed an interest in moving in the summer.
Barca were then keen to find an option for the remainder of the season and considered both Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino, but finally signed Setien on a two-and-half year deal, bringing to end Valverde’s tenure of exactly that amount of time.
Valverde was appointed in the summer of 2017 and won back-to-back LaLiga titles, but had been under scrutiny following Champions League collapses against Roma in his first season and Liverpool last term.
Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa semi-finals in Saudi Arabia turned out to be the last straw for Barca and the club announced his exit in a statement on Monday.
The former Athletic Club, Valencia, Villarreal, Espanyol and Olympiacos coach oversaw 145 games in his spell at Camp Nou, winning 97 and losing just 16 of those.
As well as the two LaLiga titles, he also led Barca to a Copa del Rey and a Spanish Supercopa – both in 2018.
He leaves with Barca ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference after 19 rounds of LaLiga and after steering the club into the knockout stages of the Champions League as group winners, with a last-16 tie against Napoli ahead in February and March.
Setien is an admirer of Cruyff
New Barcelona coach Quique Setien is a purist and when Johan Cruyff passed away in 2016, he wrote on Twitter: “I felt that football could be played better, but I didn’t see it until Johan taught us…”
“Quique Setien think like we do,” Barca wrote on their official account on Monday night. Not quite like how Ernesto Valverde did, though…
We mentioned his trophies just now, but ultimately it will probably be those two Champions League disasters that Valverde’s time at Barcelona is best remembered for.
There’s something slightly comical in the fact that he managed to survive the humiliations of the Roma and Liverpool debacles, but was then given the boot after being knocked out in the semi-finals of a competition that a lot of people deemed nonsense.
Setien to be unveiled tomorrow
Barcelona’s new man will go through all the usual formalities as he is presented to fans and the media tomorrow.
At 2:30pm GMT he will formally sign his contract, before holding a photo session on the pitch at the Nou Camp. Then, at 3:30pm, he’ll have his first press conference.
Valverde’s trophy haul
Rather bizarrely, Valverde’s tenure comes to an end at a time when he was on course to lead Barca to a third successive LaLiga title, with the Catalan side leading the way at the top of the table on goal difference.
As it is, he departs with two championships to his name, as well as a Copa del Rey and a Spanish Supercopa.
So no surprise in the end to see Valverde go, and we understand that the reason for the delay this evening was so that Barca could announce their new man, Setien, at the same time.
What is a little surprising is that Setien has been handed a deal that runs until the summer of 2022. Remember, rumours abound earlier this week were that Xavi was lined up to take the job in the summer…
BREAKING: Barcelona have confirmed that former Real Betis boss Quique Setien is their new manager.
Setien has agreed a two-and-a-half year deal to take over at the Nou Camp, having been out of work since leaving Betis at the end of last season.
So after a lengthy board meeting today, it looks like that Spanish Supercopa semi-final exit against Atletico Madrid last week is the straw that’s broken the camel’s back.
Ernesto Valverde’s reign as Barcelona manager, which began in the summer of 2017, and has brought two league titles in as many season, has come to an end.
BREAKING: Ernesto Valverde has been sacked as manager of Barcelona after two-and-a-half years in charge.
Stick right here for more, all the reaction, and news regarding Barcelona’s search for a new manager.
Pressure is mounting on Ernesto Valverde at the Camp Nou and with the Barcelona hierarchy now considering replacements, his days could be numbered.
Can’t see the Barcelona sack Ernesto Valverde live blog? Click here to access our desktop page.