Valencia have appointed Argentine
former player Mauricio Pellegrino to replace Unai Emery as their
coach from next season, the Spanish club said on Monday.
"Mauricio Pellegrino is the new coach of Valencia for the
next two seasons," Valencia said in a statement on their
Emery had long been expected to leave at the end of the
campaign after leading Valencia to third place in La Liga,
behind Real Madrid and Barcelona, and automatic qualification to
the Champions League for the third year in a row.
Pellegrino, 40, was a centre-back in the Valencia side that
won the La Liga titles in 2002 and 2004, when they also lifted
the UEFA Cup. He later worked as assistant to his coach from
that time, Rafa Benitez, at Liverpool and Inter Milan.
Emery, 40, joined Valencia from Almeria in 2008 but has
never managed to completely convince skeptical fans despite
working in exceptionally difficult circumstances.
The east-coast club have been struggling with crippling
debts and have had to sell key players, such as Spanish
internationals David Villa to Barcelona, David Silva to
Manchester City and Juan Mata to Chelsea.
Emery has constantly rebuilt the side and made it the third
best in Spain the last three years, leading them to the
semi-finals of the King's Cup and the Europa League this time
With one game left, away at Real Sociedad, they lie 29
points behind second-placed Barcelona but six ahead of
Pellegrino joined Valencia as a player from Barcelona in
1999 and spent five-and-a-half seasons with them.
As well as their league titles, he helped them to reach
consecutive Champions League finals, missing the decisive
penalty in the shootout after extra time against Bayern Munich
in their second appearance in 2001.
He started his coaching career with Valencia's youth academy
before joining Benitez at Liverpool and later following him to
Italy. It will be his first top-flight coaching role.
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