Athletic Bilbao appoint former Valencia boss Ernesto Valverde as manager

Valverde left the Mestalla at the end of the season. Photo: PA

Ernesto Valverde has been appointed coach of Athletic Bilbao and will be presented at a press conference on Friday lunchtime, the Primera Division club have confirmed.

Athletic president Josu Urrutia announced at a press conference two weeks ago that the club had parted company with Marcelo Bielsa after two years in charge.

Valverde, meanwhile, confirmed on June 1 that he was leaving his post as Valencia coach after Los Che missed out on the Champions League places on the final day of the Spanish season.

A short statement on club website www.athletic-club.net this evening read: "Athletic Club and Ernesto Valverde have reached an agreement for him to be the coach of the first team.

"He will be officially presented, alongside president Josu Urrutia, on Friday June 21 at 1230 in the Palacio Ibaigane press room."

Urrutia announced at a press conference on June 7 that Athletic had opted not to offer 57-year-old former Argentina boss Bielsa a contract for next season, saying the board had unanimously taken the decision in the "best interests" of the club.

The Basque outfit enjoyed a memorable first season under Bielsa, but the recently completed campaign was hugely disappointing as the club found themselves fighting to avoid relegation.

Athletic, one of only three clubs never to have been out of the top flight, finished the season in 12th spot, nine points above the drop zone.

Valencia's 4-3 defeat to Sevilla in the final round of La Liga games saw Real Sociedad snatch fourth place, prompting Valverde - who had previously been coy about his future - to declare he had coached his final match for the club,

"This has been my last game for Valencia," Valverde, who took over from the sacked Mauricio Pellegrino in December, said on the club's official Twitter account.

"If I waited until now to say this it is because my intention was to keep the competitive spirit (in the side)."

Valverde's appointment marks his return to San Mames for a second spell at the helm, having coached the team from 2003 to 2005. He also played for Athletic for six years from 1990.