Ernesto Valverde of Barcelona
Ernesto Valverde will no longer be the head coach of Barcelona, the club have announced. Photo by Alejandro Garcia.

FC Barcelona have officially announced the parting of ways with manager Ernesto Valverde and the hiring of Quique Setién. The club released an official statement on regarding the departure of Valverde.

Valverde managed the Blaugrana for 163 matches, recording a sterling record of 108-35-20. While the Spaniard lifted four trophies with the club, he was unable to capitalize on the rapidly approaching prime of Barcelona's core, never quite sniffing the Champions League Final in his 2.5 seasons at the helm. Two La Liga titles are an admirable haul, but the standards at the Camp Nou are quite a bit higher than most. A recent loss in the Supercopa de España semi-finals to Atlético Madrid—coupled with draws in three of their last four league matches—likely ushered in the firing.

Setién takes the reins in a favorable position, with Barcelona currently level on points with rivals Real Madrid. The Cantabrian most recently managed Real Betis to a 10th-place finish in the 2018-19 campaign.

It isn't the name many expected to hear, after rumors swirled that Xavi could be returning to his old club, and that Mauricio Pochettino had been contacted. Barcelona, however, have cited Setién's style of play as a core reason for the hiring, saying, "Throughout his career he has been a proponent of possession based, attacking football that has been attractive to the fans."

The Santander-born man coached his hometown team, Racing Santander, to a Primera División promotion in his first foray as a manager. Stints with other lower-division sides, such as CD Lugo and UD Las Palmas, turned up middling results, but impressively took Betis to a 6th-place La Liga finish and Europa League qualification in his first season in charge.

The new manager's first test will be a Granada side that bested the Catalan's in September by a score of 2-0. The timing also gives Setién just over a month to get his side clicking before they face Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League.