Valverde exits Athletic amid Barcelona links

Marc-Andre ter Stegen

Marc-Andre ter Stegen

"Jose Angel Ziganda will be the new coach of Athletic Club for the next two seasons", a statement from the LaLiga outfit confirmed.

After moving to Espanyol, Valverde enjoyed a fruitful pair of spells at Olympiakos either side of a brief period with Villarreal, winning three Greek league titles.

He is due to hold one final press conference in Bilbao on Wednesday but it is not clear if Barca will bring forward the timing of their own announcement.

"Ernesto Valverde has done a great job with Athletic Bilbao over the last few years", he said. "When there's an offer from a club, you will know the answer [if I'd be excited to coach them]".

The 53-year-old Valverde reportedly will sign a two-year contract with Barcelona, with an option for a third season.

Valverde admitted that he turned down proposals from some big clubs in the past, but this time the outcome could be different. "But this is my club, it was my duty to first say farewell to it before I go and consider something else".

Now the situation is different and I have to consider whether I start a new project in another club. "I think it's good to have movement in football, for someone new to come along and have fresh ideas". I have had a lot of doubts, but my work here is done.

At Bilbao, he led his team to Champions League qualification in his first season in 2013, as well as a Copa Del Rey triumph in 2015. "I do not want to talk about my future right now".

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