Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has sparked uncertainty over the future of coach Ernesto Valverde at Camp Nou after his team was dumped out of the Champions League by Roma on Tuesday night, despite holding a healthy 4-1 aggregate lead before the second leg.
Roma won 3-0 on the night in the Italian capital to go through the semi finals and Bartomeu's words after the game vaguely hinted there is a chance Valverde could be made to pay the price and might not return to the dugout next season.
The former Athletic Bilbao coach is set to deliver a domestic title in his debut season in charge and could yet finish the campaign with an unbeaten La Liga record, an unprecedented achievement in a 38-game season in Spain. But failure in Europe could be his undoing.
"This team are always prepared to win on all fronts, be it with Ernesto Valverde or another coach," Bartomeu is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
"We fight to win everything every season, but tonight it wasn't to be," he added.
Being knocked out of the Champions League is a very tough blow for all Barça fans. But it is now when the supporters, coaches and players have to be more united than ever— Josep Maria Bartomeu (@jmbartomeu) April 10, 2018
"We had no response, everything went for [Roma] and we struggled to build our play," he said.
"I am responsible absolutely, I am the visible head of the team and it was down to me. With their pressure it forced us to knock balls long, we became disjointed and we were not able to win the second ball.
"It is a painful defeat it is true. We all wanted to win the competition but only one can win. We did not make it but we have to keep going, there is nothing else we can do. There will be difficult games ahead but we will concentrate on winning what we can still do as so far we have won nothing.
"I hope it will not affect us but this is clearly a blow. We have important targets ahead and we will see if we can do it."