Valverde returns as Athletic Bilbao coach

Staff WritersAP
Former Athletic Bilbao player Ernesto Valverde has become head coach of the club for the third time.
Camera IconFormer Athletic Bilbao player Ernesto Valverde has become head coach of the club for the third time. Credit: AP

Ernesto Valverde is officially back as Athletic Bilbao's coach.

The Spanish club made the announcement on Thursday, five days after new president Jon Uriarte was elected and pledged to bring Valverde back for his third stint as coach.

Another candidate for Bilbao's presidency, Inaki Arechabaleta, promised to bring back Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa for a second stint at the club that fields only players from the northern Basque Country region bordering with France.

The 58-year-old Valverde has not coached since he was fired from Barcelona in January 2020. Barcelona let him go despite having won back-to-back Spanish leagues and the Copa del Rey, and with his team still leading the league.

A former player, Valverde coached Athletic to a club record 306 games in 2003-05 and 2013-17. He has also coached Valencia, Olympiakos, Villarreal and Espanyol.

Athletic finished in eighth place in the Spanish league last season, just outside the European qualification places.

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