Barcelona have fired Ernesto Valverde, six months before his contract expired and replaced him with Real Betis manager Quique Setien, his contract running till 2022. Velverde, appointed in May 2017, had led Barcelona to two La Liga tiles, A Copa del Rey win and a Spanish Super Cup.

In the current season, the Catalans are even leading the points table on a strong goal difference. However, a recent string of poor results in the recent past seems to have played a role in the 55-year-old’s sacking. Barcelona failed to reach the Champions League final, squandering their first round advantage and losing to AS Roma and Liverpool in the second round. Velverde is also the first manager in 17 years to be sacked by the club mid-season after Louis van Gaal in 2002.

“FC Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde have reached an agreement to terminate the contract that united both parties. The club publicly expresses its gratitude to Ernesto Valverde for his professionalism, his commitment, his dedication and his always positive treatment towards all that make up the Barca family. We wish him luck and success in the future,” the club said in a statement.

Barcelona were in talks with Xavier Hernandez, but the former midfielder didn’t think the timing was right so the club went with Setien instead. As per the initial agreements, Barcelona wanted to offer him a role until the end of the season with the possibility of another 12 months, but were convinced for a longer deal after Edoardo Crnjar, his agent, negotiated.

Since turning to coaching in the year 2000, Setien has managed seven teams before his Barca appointment, including Racing and Las Palmas. Under him, Betis defeated Barcelona 4-3 at Camp Nou in La Liga last season.