Valverde is ready to return to Athletic Bilbao after Uriarte won the presidential election

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Ernesto Valverde, not Marcelo Bielsa, is set to become Athletic Bilbao’s next coach after Jon Uriarte won the club’s presidential election on Friday.

Valverde has coached Athletic on two previous occasions, from 2003 to 2005 and 2013 to 2017. No coach has supervised more matches for the club than his figure of 306.

He enjoyed success with Athletic during his second round, leading the team to Europe in every campaign and winning the Supercopa de España in 2015-16, beating Barcelona 5-1.

In 2017, Valverde was appointed Barca coach. He won the LaLiga in his two full seasons at the Camp Nou and a Copa del Rey title in 2018, but failure in the Champions League put him on thin ice and he was sacked in late 2019.

The 58-year-old has since been out of work, but earlier this week, Athletic presidential candidate Uriarte stated that Valverde would become the club’s new coach if he wins the election.

Another candidate, Ricardo Barkala, had also supported Valverde as coach, while Inaki Arechabaleta had chosen Marcelo Bielsa – another former Athletic coach happily remembered in the Basque Country.

Still, Bielsa is not returning to the San Mames yet, and instead it is Valverde who is to be appointed after Uriarte’s victory.

Uriarte, the youngest of the three 43-year-old candidates, is a former banker who co-founded the ticket portal Ticketbis, which was sold to eBay in 2016. He won the election with 46.71 percent of the vote.

Arechabaleta came in second with a share of 33.72 percent, with Barkala coming in third (18.13 percent).

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