sport news Ernesto Valverde is SACKED by Barcelona with Quique Setien set to take over

Ernesto Valverde is SACKED by Barcelona despite sitting top of La Liga as little-known Quique Setien takes over on two-and-a-half year deal after Spanish giants were turned down by Xavi Barcelona have sacked Ernesto Valverde after two-and-a-half years in charge Spanish giants are top of La Liga and in the last 16 of the Champions League   The club are set to move for Quique Setien after being rejected by Xavi There have been doubts about Valverde's ability to achieve success in Europe 

By Joe Strange for MailOnline

Published: 22:16 GMT, 13 January 2020 | Updated: 22:26 GMT, 13 January 2020

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Barcelona have sacked manager Ernesto Valverde despite the club sitting top of La Liga at the halfway point of the season, with Quique Setien the front-runner to succeed him.

The shock decision comes in the wake of last week's Spanish Super Cup semi-final defeat by Atletico Madrid, in which Barca threw away a lead late on to lose 3-2.

That result accelerated a move for club legend Xavi to replace Valverde, but after their former midfielder turned down a return to the Nou Camp, they are now poised to appoint Setien, ahead of a potential move for Mauricio Pochettino.

Ernesto Valverde leaves Barcelona's Joan Gamper training ground on Monday afternoon

Ernesto Valverde leaves Barcelona's Joan Gamper training ground on Monday afternoon

Former Real Betis manager Quique Setien has emerged as a shock front-runner for the role

Former Real Betis manager Quique Setien has emerged as a shock front-runner for the role

Betis hired Setien at the start of the 2017-18 campaign and he led them to a 6th-place finish

Betis hired Setien at the start of the 2017-18 campaign and he led them to a 6th-place finish

VALVERDE AT BARCA 

Joined: May, 2017

Honours: La Liga (2017-18, 2018-19), Copa del Rey (2017-18), Spanish Super Cup (2018) 

Matches: 145

Won: 97

Drawn: 32

Lost: 16 

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Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and directors Javier Bordas, Oscar Grau and

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