Quique Setien sacked by Barcelona after humiliating defeat to Bayern Munich

Catalans begin search for third manager in three years

Quique Setien has been sacked by Barcelona after just eight months as manager, the Primera Liga club has announced.

The club said "the new coach will be announced in the coming days as part of a wide-ranging restructuring of the first team".

Setien, 61, leaves Barca just days after the humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals. It was the first time since 1951 that Barcelona had lost a game by a six-goal margin, while not since 1948 had the team conceded eight goals in a game.

The Champions League collapse was the final game of a sorry season for the Catalan giants, who after La Liga's restart following the coronavirus-enforced shutdown, surrendered a two-point lead to allow rivals Real Madrid to clinch the title.

Setien was appointed in January in place of Ernesto Valverde despite the Spaniard leading the club to successive league titles and to the top of the table in his third season.

Former Real Betis manager Setien was Barcelona's third choice to replace Valverde after former midfielder Xavi and Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman, also an ex-Barca player, turned down the club's approaches.

Barcelona are now in the market for their third manager in three years. Koeman has once again been linked with the role, while former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, who once played for and managed Barca's local rivals Espanyol, is also thought to be in the running.

Xavi, meanwhile, moved to distance himself from a return to the Camp Nou, telling Icon magazine: "There's a lot of external noise around the club, a lot of issues off the pitch and I don't think now is the right time."

However, the problems at Barcelona extend far beyond whichever manager is in the dugout. The club's recent transfer record has been poor – symbolised by record signing Philippe Coutinho, on loan at Bayern, scoring twice against his parent club on Friday – while issues at boardroom level saw six directors resign in April in protest over the clubs's handling of a social media scandal and the financial implications of the coronavirus crisis.

The ongoing crisis at Barcelona has seen the club's relationship with their most powerful and important player strained to unprecedented levels.

Lionel Messi has publicly criticised the board several times this season, questioning the club's transfer policy after the failure to re-sign Neymar, hitting out at sporting director Eric Abidal, who called into question the squad's commitment under Valverde, and accusing the club of scapegoating players over the pay cut process during the shutdown.

Messi, whose contract expires next summer, also called off negotiations over a new deal, leading to speculation the Argentine superstar could leave the club.

Updated: August 17, 2020 11:19 PM

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