Barcelona confirmed on Monday they have sacked manager Quique Setien.
The decision was widely expected and comes in the wake of Friday’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in Lisbon.
Here’s the club’s official statement:
“The Board of Directors have agreed that Quique Setién is no longer the first team coach. This is the first decision within a wider restructuring of the first team which will be agreed between the current technical secretary and the new coach, who will be announced in the coming days.”
Barcelona also confirmed presidential elections have been called for March which is also a key decision. The current board and president Josep Maria Bartomeu are deeply unpopular among supporters. Bartomeu can not stand again which means a new regime will take over.
“The FC Barcelona Board of Directors, assuming its responsibility for the sporting situation that the club are experiencing, have agreed that the date for the next presidential elections will be the first matchday past March 15, 2021. The formal announcement of the elections will take place at the end of January 2021, in accordance with the provisions of article 43.1 of the Club Statutes.”
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Short Reign for Setien
Setien only took charge of the club in January on a two-and-a-half-year deal, taking over from Ernesto Valverde who was sacked after Barca’s Spanish Super Cup semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid.
The Catalan giants were top of La Liga when Setien took over but failed to retain their title, eventually finishing five points behind fierce rivals Real Madrid. Setien was unable to taste success in the Copa del Rey either, going out to Athletic in the quarter-finals.
Yet it was the humiliating Champions League exit that finally prompted Setien’s departure. The demoralizing defeat to Bayern Munich highlighted just how far Barcelona have fallen and means they finish a season without silverware for the first time since 2007-08.
Koeman Favorite to Replace Setien
Netherlands coach and former Barcelona defender Ronald Koeman is the current favorite to replace Setien in the Camp Nou dugout. The 57-year-old is close to agreeing a deal with the Catalan giants to take charge for the next two seasons, according to Mundo Deportivo’s Fernando Polo.
Koeman spent six years at Barcelona as a player, famously scoring the winning goal against Sampdoria in the European Cup final in 1992. The victory was the first time the Catalans had been crowned European champions.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 20, 2020
The Dutchman also played for Eredivisie sides Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Groningen and Feyenoord before moving into management after his playing career had ended.
Koeman is currently in charge of the Netherlands national team and has guided them to the finals of the 2020 European Championship. The tournament has since been postponed until 2021 due to Covid-19.
According to Polo, Barcelona are already in negotiations to free Koeman from his contract with the national side in order to bring him to the Camp Nou. The club have been impressed with the work he’s done with a young Netherlands team and also like his commitment to playing attacking football.
Perhaps most importantly, Barcelona also feel he has the right personality to handle some of the big names in the locker room.