Lionel Messi has reportedly backed Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde for the vacant Barcelona managerial job as the Catalans step up search for Luis Enrique’s replacement.
The Catalan are in the hunt for a new manager after Luis Enrique confirmed that he will be standing down at the end of the season earlier this year.
Enrique called time on his three-year spell at the Nou Camp in March, after having landed two La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey and a Champions League win. Messi who is currently in discussions with the club over a new deal as he enters the final year of his contract at the Nou Camp is believed to favour Valverde over the club’s current assistant Unzue.
And Spanish outlet Don Balonare reporting that Messi has given Athletic Bilbao coach Valverde his seal of approval.
Valverde lifted the Supercopa de Espana with Bilbao in 2015 and has led the side into European competition for the past two season. The club go into this weekend’s final La Liga fixtures in sixth place.
Several of Messi’s team-mates are also said to be in favour of the move with an announcement expected to be made after the season finishes. Valverde is the favourite for the post and his deal with the Basque side comes to an end next month.