After having the coaching job reportedly turned down by club legends Ronald Koeman and Xavi, FC Barcelona have turned to Quique Setien, who was appointed as the successor of Ernesto Valverde on Monday.
Setien, known to favour a possession-based and attacking brand of football now has a huge task on his hands to restore Barcelona’s iconic passing identity which went missing in recent years.
The former Las Palmas and Real Betis coach comes with huge experience but is known to very few outside his homeland. Here are a few things to know about the new FC Barcelona coach:
Racing Santander legend
Setien started out as a beach football player and began his professional football career at his hometown club Racing Santander. He then played for Atletico Madrid and Logrones before returning at Santander for a four-year spell. He announced his retirement after undergoing a short stint with Levante but established himself as a club legend at Santander after spending 12 seasons where he was nicknamed ‘El Maestro’. At international level, Setien also won three caps for Spain and was part of their 1986 World Cup squad.
Disciple of Johan Cryuff
The 61-year-old is a huge admirer of Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff’s methods and in his two-decade-old managerial career has been a proponent of the passing game. During his playing career, he faced Barcelona 22 times and even scored against them twice. But he was always fond of the club’s traditions.
He told the Coaches Voice: “You played against Barcelona, and you spent the whole match running after the ball. I said to myself: ‘This is what I like. I would like to be in this team.
“How can you get a team to have the ball permanently so that the opponent is running after it for the whole match? From then on, I started to make sense of what I had felt throughout life, through my career.
“I started to really watch football. To analyse it. To understand what I felt, and what I wanted to put into practice when I became a coach.”
Leo Messi fan
Setien has always lavished praise on Lionel Messi, whom he considers the best player in history. “When a player like Xavi retires, it’s as if a kidney is removed. And the day that Messi retires, I will cry forever,” Setien had told Cedena SER.
Setien has also coached former Barça players Marc Bartra, Wilfrid Kaptoum, Cristian Tello, Antonio Sanabria, Ronald Araujo, Alen Halilovic and Kevin-Prince Boateng and few others.
Vast La Liga experience
Given his lack of success at the top level, it remains to be seen how Seiten gets the best out of Barcelona but there is no doubt that he has proven his pedigree in La Liga.
Setien has taken charge at six different Spanish clubs including Las Palmas and Real Betis – with whom he had stints in La Liga. The 61-year-old also coached the Equatorial Guinea national team for three months.
Setien signed for Las Palmas in 2015 when they were battling relegation and guided them to the 11th position in La Liga. He helped them survive another year in the Spanish top-tier with a mid-table finish.
He then moved to Real Betis and secured Europa League qualification for the Andalusian side with a reputable sixth-place finish in La Liga. However, he failed to deliver the same results the following year where they finished 10th in the league. Seiten was sacked by the club during the summer of 2019.
Keen chess player
What may come as a surprise to many is the fact that Setien is also a fine chess player. He has an impressive Fide standard rating of 2055 and has stated in the past that the game helps him in his football too.
“The game of chess taught me to analyze and understand football in a way that I did not know before,” he was quoted as saying in 2016.