13 Jan Valverde takes Barcelona training amid speculation about his Nou Camp future
Ernesto Valverde took training at Barcelona on Monday morning amid speculation his time as coach could be about to end.
Spanish media reports a meeting between president Josep Maria Bartomeu and Valverde has taken place at the club’s training ground this afternoon, which will be followed by a scheduled board meeting.
It comes after reported summit talks last night involving Bartomeu, director Javier Bordas, chief executive Oscar Grau, technical secretary Eric Abidal, and assistant Ramon Planes, with Valverde’s future at the Nou Camp seemingly under threat.
The 55-year-old Valverde, however, reported as normal to Barca’s training camp this morning, followed soon after by assistant Jon Aspiazu, before taking the session with the players three hours later.
Valverde’s position has been brought into focus following some inconsistent performances from the Spanish superpowers, the most recent being last Thursday’s Spanish Super Cup semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid.
The Catalan giants led 2-1 with nine minutes remaining, only to suffer a 3-2 loss.
Although Barcelona are top of LaLiga on goal difference from Real Madrid, and through to the last 16 of the Champions League after topping their group, some of their performances under Valverde have fallen short of the club’s usually high standards.
The former Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol coach has guided Barca to the LaLiga title in each of his two full seasons in charge, as well as winning the Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup in 2018.
The club, though, has suffered embarrassing Champions League exits over the past two years, losing on away goals to Roma in the quarter-finals in 2017 despite winning the first leg 4-1 at the Nou Camp.
Last year Barca beat Liverpool 3-0 in the first leg of a semi-final on home soil, only to lose the return 4-0 at Anfield.
Xavi, currently in charge of Al Sadd, is one of the names who has been touted as a possible replacement for Valverde and the Qatari club’s sporting director Muhammad Ghulam Al Balushi said over the weekend that Nou Camp officials had made an approach for their ex-captain.
The 39-year-old former Spain star admits it is a “dream” of his to one day coach Barca, but insists his focus right now is on Al Sadd.
Xavi made a club-record 767 appearances for Barca from 1999 through to 2015, winning 25 trophies in the process. He subsequently joined Al Sadd, initially as a player before finally retiring in May last year, and then taking over as head coach for this season.
Valverde, though, does have support from many of his peers in the game, including the likes of Pep Guardiola, Andres Iniesta and Luis Enrique.