Ernesto Valverde
Ernesto Valverde announced he will be leaving Athletic Club last week. Getty

Ernesto Valverde has been named Barcelona's new head coach after signing a two-year contract with the option of a third, the club have confirmed. Arsenal had also been linked with the Spaniard but his arrival at the Nou Camp became a formality last week he announced he was leaving Athletic Club Bilbao following a four-year tenure at the Basque side.

New Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli and Juan Carlos Unzue emerged as the alternative candidates to take over from Luis Enrique in March when the former Roma boss announced his decision to not sign a new deal and quit the Nou Camp.

However, Valverde was said to be Barcelona's no.1 target from the very beginning, having already been targeted by the La Liga giants in the summer of 2014 when Luis Enrique was chosen to replace Gerardo Martino.

Back then, Valverde reportedly turned down the proposal of the Catalans because he was under contract at Athletic. But with his deal at San Mames now expired, the offer from Barcelona has come just at the right time.

Marca put the move to Barcelona under some scrutiny last month after revealing that the 53-year-old had also received a phone call on behalf of Arsenal amid Arsene Wenger's uncertain future at the Emirates Stadium.

Valverde failed to deny the links with Arsenal later during an press conference but last week different reports in Spain confirmed the former Valencia manager had agreed to take over Barcelona instead.

The Catalans have now confirmed the deal after the Luis Enrique era ended with the club clinching the Copa del Rey title with a 3-1 victory over Alaves on Saturday [27 May].

Valverde will be be officially presented by the club on Thursday.

He returns to the La Liga giants after playing for the Catalan side from 1988-1990 under Johan Cruyff, scoring eight goals in 22 appearances.

The Spaniard has garnered a big reputation during his spells at Athletic, Olympiacos, Espanyol, Villarreal and Valencia, winning three league titles in Greece and reaching the Uefa Cup final with Barcelona's neighbours in 2006-2007. In the summer of 2015 he was also linked with the Real Madrid job when Los Blancos hired Rafa Benitez instead to replace Carlo Ancelotti.