Valencia CF have announced that Mauricio Pellegrino will lead the Spanish Liga side into the UEFA Champions League group stage next term after the Argentinian agreed to take over from Unai Emery, who is to step down from his position as coach at the end of the season after four years in charge.
The 40-year-old former central defender – who has agreed to pen a two-year deal at Mestalla ‒ scored five goals in 138 Liga appearances for Valencia and was a key member of the 2002 and 2004 title-winning sides.
A former Argentinian international, Pellegrino was twice a losing UEFA Champions League finalist with Valencia in 2000 and 2001 – missing the decisive penalty in the shoot-out defeat by FC Bayern München in the latter showpiece – but made up for those disappointments by lifting the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup with the Liga outfit in 2004.
He also enjoyed playing spells at FC Barcelona, Deportivo Alavés and Liverpool FC, where he went on to work as assistant coach to Rafael Benítez, whom he later served in the same capacity at FC Internazionale Milano.
Despite having one league game left to play this term, Valencia lie six points clear of closest rivals Málaga CF and are therefore guaranteed to finish third. Current coach Emery replaced Ronald Koeman in 2008 and, after guiding his side to sixth spot in his maiden campaign, has consistently secured automatic qualification for the UEFA Champions League group stage since, with this his third consecutive third-place finish.
Valencia also reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals this season, losing 5-2 on aggregate against Club Atlético de Madrid.
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