New Barcelona boss Quique Setien once told Lionel Messi that he wanted to still be watching him play at the age of 60. having now become his new boss at 61.
The former Racing Santander, Equatorial Guinea, Las Palmas and Real Betis boss became the new Barca manager on Monday evening following the sacking of Ernesto Valverde, who lifted a La Liga title in both of his two full seasons at the Nou Camp.
Setien’s appointment has inevitably led to discussions about his past links with his new club and Lionel Messi, who the Barca website claim he once called “a luxury and the best player in history.”
“One day, invited by Guardiola, I had the opportunity to watch Messi train from the side of the pitch,” Setien told El Pais, as quoted by Marca.
“I went up to him and I asked him to keep playing until I was 60 years old, at least until I die.”
He’ll now get the chance to see him up close.
Meanwhile, there are questions over the sacking of Valverde who led Barca to the top of the table this season.
But the former Athletic Bilbao boss has largely paid the price for two disastrous Champions League exits at the hands of Roma in the quarter-finals in 2018 and Liverpool in the semis last year.
Barca also surrendered a 2-1 lead to lose 3-2 to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup last week, and although not the most prestigious of tournaments, that loss was seen as a perfect chance to remove Valverde from his position and appoint Setien.
The new manager’s Real Betis side are the last visiting team to win a game at the Nou Camp, doing so 4-3 last season.
After that game, Sergio Busquets gave Setien his shirt, on which he’d written the message: “For Quique with love and admiration for your way of looking at football. All the best.”