Quique Setien Reveals Barcelona Ambition Amid Ernesto Valverde Exit Rumours

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 19: Quique Setien of  Real Betis Balonpie in the bench during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Betis Balompie at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on May 19, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Former Real Betis manager Quique Setien has said he would "of course" love to coach Barcelona in the future, amid persistent rumours current Blaugrana boss Ernesto Valverde could be on his way out.

Setien spoke to Cadena Ser (h/t Sport) after the 2-0 win over Real Madrid, his final match in charge of Betis. The 60-year-old was let go shortly after Sunday's contest but wouldn't reveal what's next for him, other than say he would love to work with Barcelona and will not join Sevilla.

He also expressed his disappointment with his departure: "I am sad in one way because the reality is that I am not sure if it's a little unfair what has happened, but it is what it is, this is football. I find it disappointing that the work we have done over these two years, which I think has been acceptable, will not have continuity."

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 07:  Ernesto Valverde, Manager of Barcelona reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final second leg match between Liverpool and Barcelona at Anfield on May 07, 2019 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Imag
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Valverde has come under fire this season, and speculation regarding his future has been rampant. Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu addressed the many rumours last week, saying Valverde won't be going anywhere, per Marca's Alejandro Segura.

The 55-year-old signed a contract extension earlier this season, but even the new deal and Bartomeu's support haven't halted the speculation. Not all supporters are a fan of the tactician:

Valverde has won the La Liga title in both of his seasons at the Camp Nou, and he could complete a second domestic double if the Blaugrana beat Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on May 25.

But the strong domestic results have been paired with a pragmatic approach that is not popular with the fans, and back-to-back embarrassing UEFA Champions League exits have sunk his popularity.

Last season, AS Roma completed an unlikely comeback in the quarter-finals, winning 3-0 at home after losing the first leg 4-1 in Catalonia. The Italians progressed thanks to the away-goal rule.

This year's collapse was arguably even worse, as the Blaugrana beat Liverpool 3-0 at home in the first leg of the semi-finals, only to lose 4-0 at Anfield against a side without Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti thought it would not have been a shock if Valverde had been asked to leave after that tie:

Setien earned himself many fans during his two-year stint with Betis by playing free-flowing, attacking football and taking the game right to La Liga's giants. It led to a sixth-placed finish and UEFA Europa League birth last season, where Betis beat Olympiacos and AC Milan to the top spot in their group before losing to Rennes in the round of 32.

This season, he guided the Andalusians to wins at both the Camp Nou and Estadio Santiago Bernabeu:

Consistency was a major issue for Betis, however, and their defensive frailty also cost them. They finished in 10th place in La Liga, conceding the sixth-most goals in the competition.

Despite those struggles, Setien is likely to get offers from bigger clubs this summer. Some Barcelona fans are hopeful the Blaugrana will get involved:

On top of wins at the Camp Nou and Bernabeu, Setien also guided Betis to a win over Atletico Madrid at home in February.

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