Athletic Bilbao have announced that Coach Ernesto Valverde is leaving the club, all-but-certainly freeing him up for Barcelona.
The development comes just two days after speculation emerged that Valverde had agreed a two-year contract to succeed Luis Enrique at Barca.
“Ernesto Valverde will not stay on as Coach of the Athletic Club first team for the 2017-18 campaign,” read a statement on Los Leones’ official website.
“The Coach, accompanied by President Josu Urrutia, will appear before the media on Wednesday May 24 at 12:00 [CET] in the Press room at San Mames.”
The 53-year-old returned to Athletic for his second spell at the helm in 2013 and took the side into Europe in each of his first three seasons, including a Champions League run during 2014-15.
However. the Basques finished seventh in the campaign that just ended, meaning they are relying on Barca winning the Copa del Rey Final.
Valverde is considered to have the Blaugrana’s ‘DNA’, having played under Johan Cruyff at Camp Nou between 1988 and 1990.