Former FC Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde attended the Bilbao International Football Summit, and has spoken out publicly for the first time since he was sacked by the Catalan side.

Valverde attended the Summit to receive an award. He remained true to his style, as he spoke in a diplomatic tone when reporters asked him about his recent dismissal from Camp Nou.

The former Barca coach didn't convey any feelings of disaffection towards the defending La Liga champions.

Valverde said, "Why have I left? It's not a question for me. It is a part of the trade that you have to accept. Would you like it to be otherwise? All clubs leave their mark and I have been incredibly fortunate to train Barça. I don't think about that, if I have been unfairly treated, I have to avoid it. It's about turning the page, in the end, we are thinking about what has happened and why. I don't have to look back."

The former Athletic Bilbao manager took charge of Barça in May 2017, and won La Liga in both of his two full seasons. He also helped the club win the Copa del Rey as well as the Supercopa de Espana in 2018.

However, the team collapsed in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals against Roma and Liverpool in consecutive seasons, despite enjoying healthy first-leg leads on both occasions. The pressure mounted on Valverde. Barça finally sacked him after the side lost the Supercopa semi-final to Atletico Madrid in Saudi Arabia in January. He was later replaced by Quique Setién.

Ernesto Valverde Getty

Barcelona is currently in second position in La Liga as they trail three points behind Real Madrid. Both clubs have played 23 matches and won 15 games each. However, Barça lost four of their encounters as compared to just one loss for Los Blancos. As a result, the Madrid side is now leading the chart with 52 points.

Lionel Messi's side will now face Getafe on Saturday at Camp Nou, and their aim will be to level points with the table leaders. Real Madrid will take on Celta Vigo at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night.