Quique Setien in focus: Who is Barcelona’s new boss?
Barcelona have appointed Quique Setien after deciding to call time on Ernesto Valverde’s tenure and we've taken a look at why they've opted for the change.
Valverde led the Catalan giants to two La Liga crowns in his two full seasons as manager but failed to deliver in Europe. In truth, it is perhaps surprising Barca kept the faith with the 55-year-old for as long as they did and it wouldn’t have been a shock to have seen him depart after the last campaign, following their Champions league semi-final defeat to Liverpool.
Setien isn’t a particularly well–known name outside of his native Spain and has never managed in the Champions League. Barcelona were also linked with former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino but he has previously said his connections with city rivals Espanyol, who he played for and later managed, would make a move to Camp Nou difficult.
Club legend Xavi was also linked but he apparently rejected an offer over the weekend, presumably due to a desire to develop further as a coach with Qatari club Al Sadd before a seemingly inevitable future return to Barcelona. B team manager Xavi Garcia Pimienta was also thought to be under consideration but the club opted for Setien.
Unlike most of Barcelona’s recent managers, Setien never represented the club as a player. Four of the last five Barca bosses spent time at the club either as youth players or in the senior squad before becoming the manager. Setien is perhaps best known for his two stints at Racing Santander, while he also played for Atletico Madrid and managed three caps for Spain.
The 61-year-old may never have won a trophy as a boss but he did get the best out of limited resources at both Las Palmas and Betis. At Las Palmas he guided them to an 11th placed finish in Spain’s top flight – their best finish for 40 years – and then went in to lead Betis to a sixth-placed finish and qualification for the Europa League.
Setien is a firm believer in the Cruyffian football that is synonymous with Barcelona and that is perhaps the key factor behind the club’s decision to offer him a two-and-a-half year deal. Valverde’s more pragmatic approach was at odds with the Barca philosophy, and the hope will be Setien can get back to the free flowing, possession-based football that has been less prevalent at Camp Nou since Pep Guardiola left nearly eight years ago.