Barcelona Set March Deadline for Ernesto Valverde Contract Decision

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2018

FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde during the UEFA Champions League group B match between FC Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven at the Camp Nou stadium on September 18, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Barcelona would like manager Ernesto Valverde to decide on his future by March 2019, with his contract set to expire next summer. 

According to Marca, the former Athletic Bilbao boss holds an option for an additional year. Club president Josep Mario Bartomeu told Onda Cero (h/t Marca) he would like a decision by March:

"I would like him to continue, as he is the club coach and I like how he relates to us and to the players.

"When we talked we knew that he would succeed, we are very happy with how things are going, and he has always been our first choice.

"[March] is the ideal date for us to know what is going on for the next season."

Valverde took over from Luis Enrique last summer. While there were questions about the lack of silverware amassed during his career, he won both La Liga and the Copa del Rey in his first season at the Camp Nou.

The domestic succes was offset by the club's disappointment in the UEFA Champions League, where they were on the receiving end of an epic comeback from AS Roma in the quarter-finals. Coupled with frequent questions about his team selections, not everyone is a fan of the tactician.

He drew the ire of fans again at the weekend in the narrow 2-1 win over Real Sociedad. Valverde opted to rest Sergio Busquets and Philippe Coutinho and move Sergi Roberto into a midfield role. He had to make major changes at half-time down 1-0, however, and supporters were not happy:

Valverde's future at the club will likely depend on success in Europe. It's no secret the Catalans are prioritising the Champions League this season after a poor run the last few years.

Coutinho had no explanation for the fact the club has only won the Champions League once since the 2010-11 campaign:

By March of this season, the La Liga title race should be relatively clear, unless two or more clubs are locked in a tense late-season battle. The Blaugrana never dropped out of the top spot in the standings after Matchday 3 last year.

The Champions League quarter-finals won't get under way until April, with the draw taking place in March, per UEFA's official website. The Catalans are expected to still be in the tournament by that point, and if they're not, Valverde's fate may already be sealed.

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