Valverde returns to Athletic Club

AFP

Valverde remains a popular figure at the club following a successful second stint as the first team's coach between 2013 and 2017.

During that four-year spell, Valverde took Athletic into the Champions League, reached the final of the 2015 Copa del Rey and a few months later ended the club's 31-year trophy drought with a 5-1 aggregate defeat of Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana.

He eventually left in May 2017 to take over from Luis Enrique at Barcelona, with whom Valverde won two LaLiga titles, the Copa del Rey and Supercopa before being dismissed in January 2020.

The Blaugrana have won just one trophy since.

Valverde's return for a third spell in charge of the team he also represented for six years as a player coincides with the election of Uriarte as Athletic's new president.

Uriarte's key pledge in his election campaign was to bring Valverde back as coach following Marcelino Garcia Toral's departure in May.

Former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa – who has also coached Athletic before – appeared to be Valverde's biggest rival, having reached an agreement to take over if presidential candidate Inaki Arechabaleta had won the election.

But Uriarte took 47.7 per cent of the vote compared to Arechabaleta's 33.7 per cent, with his success confirmed last week.

As such, Valverde will extend his record as the coach with the most matches managed at Athletic (306), while supporters will hope he can maintain the feat of not finishing below seventh in his last spell – they have not ended a season higher than eighth since his departure.


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