?Barcelona stars Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué have both offered their thanks to Ernesto Valverde after he was replaced by Quique Setién as the club’s new manager.
Valverde spent two and a half years at the Camp Nou where he took charge of 145 games across all competitions, winning four major honours with Barcelona.
The club ultimately decided to part ways with Valverde after his popularity among supporters began to dip, but goodbye messages from Messi and Piqué have shown the 55-year-old still had support from Barcelona’s star players.
“Thank you for everything,” Messi wrote on Instagram. “Surely you will be great wherever you go because, besides being a great professional, you are a great person.
“Good luck and a big hug.”
Messi has been defending Valverde’s position at the club for some time and recently stressed that the players still had confidence in him, after Barcelona’s 3-2 defeat to Atlético Madrid in the Supercopa de España.
Barcelona’s captain wasn’t the only senior to reach out to Valverde either, as Piqué took to Twitter to praise the manager’s influence both on and off the pitch following his dismissal.
“You are leaving the leading team [in La Liga] after winning 2 leagues in 2 years,” Piqué said. “It was an honour to work at your service and I hope everything goes great for you. It’s always a pleasure to cross people like you in life.”
Valverde has left the club sitting top of La Liga on goal difference, while they’re also still in the Champions League and Copa del Rey.
New manager Setién should be able to ease into the job at home to Granada this weekend – although Barça lost the reverse fixture earlier this season – but the club do face tough away matches at Valencia and Real Betis over the next few weeks.
Setién will also be given his first taste of Champions League football as a manager when Barcelona face Italian side Napoli in the first round of knockout stage games next month.
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