Ernesto Valverde said his goodbyes at Barcelona on Tuesday and admitted his spell at Camp Nou had occasionally been “tough and difficult”.
Valverde was sacked late on Monday after two-and-a-half years in charge, during which time he led the club to back-to-back LaLiga crowns.
Barca lead the way again this year – level on points with Real Madrid – but the club’s board decided to act, with their Supercopa de Espana semi-final loss to Atletico Madrid last week swiftly followed by a meeting with former midfielder Xavi, now at the helm of Qatari club Al Sadd.
Xavi is reported to have held reservations over taking charge midway through the season and, after a seemingly frantic search, Barca settled on Quique Setien as Valverde’s replacement, the former Real Betis boss agreeing a deal until June 2022.
Valverde returned to the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper on Tuesday to speak to his former colleagues, after which the club released a letter from the 55-year-old to supporters.
A goodbye letter from Ernesto Valverde: ‘My time as manager of FC Barcelona has come to an end…’
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 14, 2020
It read: “Dear Barca fans.
“My time as Barcelona coach has come to an end. It has been an intense two and a half years right from the start.
“In that time I have enjoyed some joyful moments celebrating victories and trophies but also others that have been tough and difficult. However, above all I would like to highlight my experience with the fans and the affection showed towards me during my time as coach.
“I would like to thank the president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board of directors for giving me the opportunity to coach the first team and their confidence during all this time.
“I would also like to thank all the people I have worked with at the club for their support and how they treated me during the two-and-a-half seasons, especially those who work in and around the first team and with whom I have shared so many moments at the Ciutat Esportiva and during away trips.
“Of course, I would like to thank the players for all their efforts that have allowed us to claim four trophies together. From this day, I wish them all the luck in the world and to the new coach Quique Setien also.
“All the best to everyone.
“Visca Barca and Visca Catalonia.”
Setien is due to formally sign his contract at 12:30 local time before a news conference an hour later.
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