Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has publicly backed beleaguered manager Quique Setién, insisting that he is ‘happy with the evolution’ of the team.
Former Real Betis boss Setién was the surprise replacement for previous incumbent Ernesto Valverde, who was axed by the Catalan giants at the start of 2020 despite Barcelona being top of La Liga.
The 61-year-old had been linked with the role a year before when Valverde’s position was first put under the microscope, but he was forced to wait before taking on the biggest role in his managerial career so far.
Things haven’t gone according to plan for Setién, though, with his tenure thus far tempered by off-field distractions and in-fighting, as well as a rumoured falling out with big-money signing Antoine Griezmann.
His position as manager has been called into question as a result, but Bartomeu – speaking in an interview with RAC1 (via Mundo Deportivo) has insisted that he will continue at the club, claiming that Setién aligns perfectly with Barcelona’s DNA.
“Setien will continue, obviously,” he began. “I do not regret Valverde’s change. The team needed a boost. Setién knows our DNA, the model and has brought new airs and new ideas.
“The coaches are obviously subject to the results, but I am happy with the evolution of the team. If the league, which is difficult, we did not win, then the Champions League comes in August. You have to try to win first one and then the other.”
Despite receiving Bartomeu’s backing publicly, the relentless speculation over Setién’s future is unlikely to calm down any time soon. A multitude of reports – all with contrasting information – have suggested that legendary Barcelona midfielder Xavi is ready to return to the club as manager, with one even going as far to say that he’s ‘agreed’ terms to take charge this summer.
That was swiftly followed by news that he’d signed an extended contract with Al Sadd – who he currently coaches – through to the end of the 2020/21 season. What we can be certain of is that Setién has a tricky month or so ahead of him, with Barcelona now likely to lose out to Real Madrid in the race for La Liga.
His hopes of clinging onto his job may depend on how Barcelona perform in the Champions League when the competition resumes. They must first overcome Napoli in the second leg of their last 16 tie, having ground out a 1-1 draw at the Stadio San Paolo prior to coronavirus halting the footballing calendar.