'He's the coach we want' - Barcelona president backs Valverde amid sack rumours

Ernesto Valverde Barcelona 04062019
The Blaugrana boss has faced intense criticism after another year of failure in Europe, but Josep Bartomeu has no plans to axe the Spaniard

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has offered his full backing to head coach Ernesto Valverde, despite widespread calls for his sacking at Camp Nou.

The Spanish champions wrapped up back-to-back Liga titles with a 1-0 win over Levante on April 27, holding an unassailable lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.

Barca will lift the trophy this Sunday when they take in a trip to Eibar, before switching their attention to a Copa del Rey final against Valencia six days later.

Despite being within touching distance of another domestic double, Valverde's position has come under scrutiny since his side were dumped out of the Champions League in dramatic fashion at the hands of Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp's side secured a 4-0 win over Barca at Anfield to overturn a 3-0 first-leg defeat in the semi-finals of the competition, which sent shockwaves through Catalonia.

There had been suggestions that Valverde's reign at the Camp Nou should come to an end this summer as a result of the loss to the Reds, but Bartomeu insists he is still the right man for the job.

Speaking at the 'Kubala' book presentation on Thursday, the Barca president said: "Valverde said the other day that he has the support of the president and the board. He's the coach we want.

"We're halfway through a large project. He has a contract and we're very happy with him. Now it's about how the players recover from the enormous setback.

"It's been a magnificent season, we've won [the league] with games to spare. We all want more. Now we've got the Copa del Rey final and we're coming off the back of a damaging defeat.

"Now it's about recuperating the support, the excitement, the will to compete and we've still got a week of training left."

Ernesto Valverde Barcelona

Valverde was appointed as Luis Enrique's successor at Camp Nou in 2017 and managed to secure La Liga and Copa del Rey honours in his debut year.

Unfortunately for Barca, that season was also overshadowed by failure in Champions League, as the club were the victims of another shock turnaround against Roma at the quarter-final stage.

The 55-year-old boss will be hoping his side can finish the current season strongly, having already bounced back from defeat at Liverpool with a 2-0 win over Getafe last Sunday.

Bartomeu went on to reveal preparations for the 2019-20 campaign have already begun at Camp Nou, with speculation over potential changes within the squad set to rise in the coming weeks.

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"The planning for next season is already underway, and has been for some time," he added.

"Some players have already signed and we'll keep having talks after the [Copa del Rey] final."

Matthijs de Ligt is one that is on Barca's radar, and Goal understands the Catalans are close to agreeing a deal with Ajax for the Dutch centre-back.