Spanish champions Barcelona have sacked their coach Ernesto Valverde and appointed Quique Setien as his replacement, the club announced on Monday.
The decision to remove Valverde was confirmed following a board meeting that lasted more than four hours at Camp Nou on Monday afternoon.
Barca are top of La Liga but have won only one of their last five matches. Valverde is the first coach the club has sacked mid-season since Louis van Gaal in 2003.
A club statement released on Monday night reads: “FC Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde have reached an agreement to terminate the contract that united both parties. Barcelona and Quique Setien have reached an agreement for the latter to become first team coach until 30 June 2022.”
His first game in charge will be at home to Granada on Sunday. Barcelona play Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League next month and Real Madrid in the league at the start of March.
Setien has made no secret of his admiration for the stylistic traditions of Barcelona, with the 61-year-old also renowned for favouring an exciting, offensive mode of football.
A former player of Atletico Madrid and Racing Santander, he was circled as a potential Barca coach during a particularly successful period in charge of Real Betis.
Setien led Betis to a sixth-place finish in 2018 and qualification for the Europa League but, despite overseeing a thrilling 4-3 victory at Camp Nou early the following season, results tailed off.
Betis finished 10th and the club and coach parted ways in the summer. Previously, he also helped Las Palmas avoid relegation from La Liga in 2016.
A footballing purist, Setien and Barcelona would seem a good fit, particularly if the players feel released from some of Valverde’s more pragmatic tendencies.
But critics of Setien would argue style often takes precedence over substance and it remains to be seen how he handles the pressure of matching aesthetics with results at one of the world’s most demanding clubs.
He will also have to do without Luis Suarez, who will be missing for the next four months after having surgery on his right knee.