Quique Setien described being appointed Barcelona coach as being beyond his “wildest dreams”, calling the role the highest accolade in world football.
Setien – who left Real Betis in May 2019 – was named Barca coach in something of a surprise appointment on Monday following Ernesto Valverde’s departure.
Barca great Xavi had been strongly linked with the job, though reportedly turned down the offer to succeed Valverde at this stage in the season.
And having been handed the opportunity to manage one of the world’s biggest clubs, ex-Las Palmas coach Setien – who acknowledged his shock at the speed of the move – is convinced his eagerness for the job will be easy to transmit to Barca’s star-studded squad, even if it will be impossible to improve on the team’s past achievements.
“Without a doubt I want to thank this institution for the opportunity they’ve given me to come here,” he said.
“Not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this. I’m someone who is very emotional and today is very special for me.
“I am excited to start with this project and that is the biggest thing I have to transmit to the players, we know we depend on the players.
“I need to transmit this desire, this enthusiasm, this will to win, this confidence that I have now and normally this is not very complicated for me to transmit it.
“We have had the first training session and everything has gone very quickly. [On Monday] I was walking around by the cows in my town and now I’m at the training ground at Barcelona coaching the best players in the world for a huge team which I’ll never be able to improve upon.
“This is the highest accolade.”
Setién talks about performance. pic.twitter.com/wUgwogLSyo
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 14, 2020
Thursday’s defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana proved to be the final straw for Valverde, who took over at Camp Nou in 2017 and guided Barca to two LaLiga titles plus a Copa del Rey triumph.
Setien, though, lauded his predecessor’s work.
“I want to thank Ernesto. He’s always seemed to be a very good person, he’s always been very nice to me,” the 61-year-old said.
“I value the work he has done, how he is, his principles and many other things about him. I’m also trying to get some contact with him because there are many things from his work which are going to be very good for us.
“I want to thank him for leaving me with a side which are top of the league. You can imagine I was waiting for an opportunity. You always assume a team down at the bottom in a negative run of form.
“The work Ernesto has done and how he has left the team is something to be thankful for. It is not normal to be left with a side which are top of the league.”
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