Barcelona are expected to fire Ernesto Valverde in the next 24 hours, making him the first Barcelona coach to be sacked since Louis Van Gaal in 2003.
According to Football Espana, Barcelona informed Valverde today that the club will terminate his contract before it expires at the end of the year. Having packed up his stuff, Valverde will say his final goodbyes to players and staff tomorrow.
Valverde has spent two-and-half seasons as Camp Nou boss, steadying a sinking ship in his first season where he lead the team on a 29-match unbeaten run in all competitions. Valverde only lost one game during his debut LaLiga season in 2017-18. Barcelona subsequently won both the 2017-18 La Liga and Copa del Rey under Valverde.
However, as key losses piled up — most notably the capitulation against Roma and Liverpool in back to back Champions League seasons — Valverde was not fit for the part.
Other vital losses include last season’s Copa del Rey defeat to Valencia and most recently, the shock loss to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup. Real Madrid won the Supercup cup in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on penalties last night.
Who will be Barcelona’s next boss?
With club legend Xavi having turned down the role, speculation is mounting that Mauricio Pochettino could be Valverde’s replacement.
The former Tottenham Hotspur head coach appears to be leading a list of candidates that also includes Barcelona’s B team coach García Pimienta and former Real Betis manager Quique Setién.
Given his allegiance to crosstown rivals Espanyol whom he coached for three seasons, Pochettino has previously stated his reticence to take the top job for the Blaugrana.
“It is more than understood [that I will never take over at FCB],” the Pochettino said in an interview with MARCA during last year’s Champions League group phase. “My path and that of Barcelona are different, opposite directions. Coaching there would be impossible.”
“I am never going to manage Barcelona. I prefer to work at my farm in Argentina than manage at certain places,” he stated two years ago.
With Barcelona desperate to fill the job with an elite coach, they will need to move quickly to convince Pochettino otherwise — Manchester United are keen to sign the Argentine as well.