Soccer Football - Copa del Rey - Semi Final First Leg - FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - February 6, 2019 Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde and Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari during the match REUTERS/Sergio Perez
Soccer Football - Copa del Rey - Semi Final First Leg - FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - February 6, 2019 Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde and Real Madrid coach Santiago Solari during the match REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Valverde renewed Barca contract to 'end noise' about his future

Sat, Feb. 16, 2019
BARCELONA, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said he was pleased to have signed a new contract with the La Liga champions for another year to prevent any negative speculation affecting the team.

Valverde signed a contract extension earlier on Friday until the end of the 2019-20 season with an option for one more year, having originally said he would wait until the end of the campaign before deciding whether or not to stay at the Nou Camp.

"The stability that comes with the new contract will serve us well, too much noise (about his future) could have had a negative impact on us," Valverde told a news conference ahead of Barca's La Liga game against Real Valladolid.

"I said before that I had a good relationship with the club and everything happened naturally. They gave me an offer a while ago, we dwelled on it for some time and then we decided this was a good moment to announce it."

Valverde, 55, succeeded Luis Enrique as coach in 2017, earning the job after sustained success with Athletic Bilbao.

He guided Barca to a La Liga and Copa del Rey double in his debut campaign and almost led them to an unbeaten season in the league, losing only their penultimate game to Levante.

However, he faced strong criticism for the team's failure in the Champions League, exiting the tournament on away goals to AS Roma, throwing away a 4-1 lead from the first leg by losing 3-0 in the away leg.

That collapse seriously damaged the coach's reputation and cast doubt on his long term future.

Those doubts have now been resolved, although Valverde said his future would not be guaranteed if his side, who are top of La Liga, in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey and the last 16 of the Champions League, ended the season empty handed.

"If that happens, we will have to talk," he said.

Barcelona lead the league standings with 51 points from 23 games, six points ahead of Real Madrid.

Their race towards the title has been slowed, however, with consecutive draws against Valencia and Athletic Bilbao, and Valverde hopes his side can get back to winning ways against Valladolid.

"It's a perfect game for us to win and that's what we want to do. We have to make sure we don't relax or switch off and we have to focus on grabbing the three points in front of us," he added. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Amlan Chakraborty, Sudipto Ganguly and Christian Radnedge)

 
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