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Valverde signs contract to become Barcelona coach

02 Juin 2017

However, unlike two of his more recent predecessors, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, Valverde is little known outside of Spain having had a far less distinguished playing and managerial career thus far.

Valverde, who played for Barca for nearly 30 years, stepped down as Athletic Bilbao boss two weeks back.

"When a team like FC Barcelona calls you, you don't have to think about it too much".

"It is the most hard challenge in my career but also the most attractive".

It will be a while until he meets Messi, who is now in China on a promotional tour and will then join up with Argentina in Australia, but he's already relishing the prospect of coaching the five-time World Player of the Year.

I know that my job is demanding and I know the challenge I have before me. "He loves youth football and he has the right style to coach this club and knows how the club work". I see this stage in a completely different light.

"The possibility of improving the team?"

"I'd like things to go well and let the people enjoy it", Valverde added.

The 53-year-old's appointment was confirmed by Blaugrana president Josep Maria Bartomeu on Tuesday, replacing the outgoing Luis Enrique, who's side finished second on the La Liga table and were convincingly knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals.

It was Barcelona's worst season under Luis Enrique, despite winning two titles, the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa del Rey.

Asked about Messi, he said: "It's a unique experience to be able to coach Messi".

"The biggest challenge for me will be to coach a great team full of great players", Valverde said at a news conference.

Lionel Messi reportedly wants Barcelona to make a move for Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez in the summer. The 29-year-old's future remains in the air with a new contract yet to be resolved but Valverde, understandably, is hoping the Argentina ace will stay. He's the best player I've ever seen on a pitch and it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

'My plan is to help him to keep improving and to enjoy working with him.

No [I'm not worried] the information I have is that everyone is optimistic about this situation.

Valverde signs contract to become Barcelona coach