Barcelona have sacked coach Ernesto Valverde after two-and-a-half seasons in charge at Camp Nou.

Valverde was appointed in the summer of 2017 and won back-to-back LaLiga titles, but had been under scrutiny following Champions League collapses against Roma in his first season and Liverpool last term.

Thursday’s 3-2 loss to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa semi-finals in Saudi Arabia turned out to be the last straw for Barca and the club announced his exit in a statement on Monday.

The former Athletic Club, Valencia, Villarreal, Espanyol and Olympiacos coach oversaw 145 games in his spell at Camp Nou, winning 97 and losing just 16 of those.

As well as the two LaLiga titles, he also led Barca to a Copa del Rey and a Spanish Supercopa – both in 2018.

Valverde’s fate was sealed as Barca CEO Oscar Grau and sporting director Eric Abidal met with the club’s former midfielder Xavi Hernandez for talks in Qatar over the weekend and even though the 39-year-old could not be persuaded to take over straight away, the board decided to press ahead and replace their coach.

He leaves with Barca ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference after 19 rounds of LaLiga and after steering the club into the knockout stages of the Champions League as group winners, with a last-16 tie against Napoli ahead in February and March.

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