By Richard Martin
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says coach Ernesto Valverde remains the right man to lead the club next season despite overseeing successive calamitous Champions League exits.
Valverde has signed a new contract with Barca until 2020 with the option of another season and has won back-to-back La Liga titles with the Catalans as well as taking his side to the Copa del Rey final, where they will face Valencia on May 25.
His position has come under scrutiny though after his side spurned a 3-0 lead over Liverpool by losing 4-0 at Anfield in a semi-final second leg.
The result felt even more painful after they threw away a three-goal lead over AS Roma to exit last year’s competition.
“Valverde said it the other day, he has the support of the president and the board. He is the coach we want,” Bartomeu told reporters at a book promotion on Thursday.
“This is a long-term project, he has a contract and we are very happy with him. We’re already planning for next season, we’ve signed some players and after the final we’ll have more discussions.”
Bartomeu said the club was still reeling from the painful Champions League elimination but he emphasised the importance of winning the league title and urged the players to focus on beating Valencia in the Copa del Rey final.
“The first objective is always to win La Liga and then the Cup and Champions League. It has been a great season, we won the league with games to spare but we all want more,” he added.
“Next up we have the Copa del Rey final and we go into after a very painful defeat, but now is the time to come to terms with it and get our spirit back.”
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Toby Davis)