Barcelona have confirmed the appointment of Ernesto Valverde as their new coach on a three-year deal.
The 53-year-old Spaniard, who left Athletic Club after the expiry of his contract, returns to the club where he once played under Johan Cruyff.
Valverde and Juan Carlos Unzué emerged as the only two serious candidates for the post vacated by Luis Enrique, who announced in March that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season.
And while Unzué, Luis Enrique’s assistant, had the support of a number of players, the Barcelona board instead opted for someone with top-flight experience at a number of clubs.
“Valverde has great ability, knowledge and experience,” said Barca president Josep Bartomeu at a press conference.
“He is a lover of our football and has a style of football like Barca’s.
"He loves youth football and he has the right style to coach this club and knows how the club works. He has a high work rate, he is passionate about football and interested in working with the latest technology."
Valverde, who will be officially unveiled on Thursday, played for Barcelona as a forward between 1988 and 1990 under Johan Cruyff and is one of many of the Dutchman's former pupils to have turned to coaching upon retiring from playing.
The 53-year-old began his coaching career with Athletic Bilbao's youth set-up and is the Basque club's longest serving coach, overseeing 308 games over six years in two different spells.
As well as qualifying Athletic for Europe in five of his six years with the club, who only pick players from the Basque country, he ended a 31-year wait for a trophy by leading them to the 2015 Spanish Super Cup, beating Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate.
He also coached and played for Barca's city rivals Espanyol, reaching the 2007 UEFA Cup final while in charge, but lost to Sevilla on penalties, and won three Greek league titles and two domestic cups with Olympiakos Piraeus.
Valverde brings two members of his coaching staff at Athletic to Barcelona, his assistant of 15 years Jon Aspiazu and fitness coach Jose Antonio Pozanco.
Valverde will be thrown in at the deep end with his first competitive game in charge being against Barca's arch-rivals and La Liga champions Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup at the Nou Camp in August.
Before then the team will go on a pre-season tour of the United States with friendlies against Real, Manchester United and Juventus.
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