Competition Focus

Jonatan Giráldez Confirms He Will Leave FC Barcelona At End Of Season

The UEFA Women’s Champions League winning coach of FC Barcelona Jonatan Giráldez has confirmed he will leave the club fuelling speculation he will move to the NWSL.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of Thursday’s group stage tie against Rosengård, Giráldez responded to mounting reports that he had rejected the club’s offer of a new contract and planned to take up a new position as head coach of a team in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the United States.

He said that he had informed the club a few days ago of his intention not to renew his three-year contract which ends in June 2024. “It is an important decision,” he confessed, “that will help me become a better person and professional. It’s difficult to leave Barça.”

Giráldez previously worked as an assistant to Lluís Cortés who led FC Barcelona to their first two UEFA Women’s Champions League finals, losing the first in 2019 to Olympique Lyonnais before beating Chelsea 4-0 in 2021 to seal an historic treble of Spanish league, domestic Cup and Champions League.

When Cortés left the club that summer, Giráldez stepped up and if anything been more successful, winning successive Spanish league titles – the first with a perfect record of 30 wins out 30 – and reaching two more UEFA Champions League finals, again losing the first to Lyon in 2022 before retaining the title for the club with a 3-2 over VfL Wolfsburg in June.

This season, Barcelona have once more been imperious at the start of the campaign, winning all fifteen games they have so far played, scoring 50 goals in the league and conceding just two.

Giráldez confirmed that FC Barcelona club President Joan Laporta wished to keep him at the club at least until the end of his tenure in 2026 and other senior figures at the club were keen for him to renew his contract. He insisted that his decision was not motivated by money.

“When the president tells you that he loves you, the proposal (to renew) was very good. My intention was not to blackmail to improve my conditions, it is a professional, family decision. Out of respect for people at the club, I wanted to let them know as far in advance as possible and try to be as concise as possible.”

“In the middle (of negotiations), I received an offer that I weighed and finally decided to accept it. I am a person who has the desire to grow, to be a better person, a better professional, to have more skills. After becoming a father his year at 32 years old, I believed that a change could be very good for my family, and in the future I will be grateful for it.”

With Chelsea’s Emma Hayes also leaving her position this summer as the most successful women’s coach in English football to take up a new role with the United States Women’s National Team, there had been some thoughts that the Anglophone Giráldez might have been lined up to take over at the Women’s Super League champions.

However, Giráldez denied that his new job would be within Europe revealing that “the only thing I can say is that Europe will not be my next destination. It’s important not to compete against Barça.”

He also denied that he had ever thought about leaving the team before now. “Never. At other times I had received offers for another club, but I was not looking for teams, I was very calm with the decision I had made.”

With the contract of nine first team players – including key figures at the club like Alexia Putellas, Mapi León and Mariona Caldentey – also expiring in June, Giráldez was asked whether his departure might affect negotiations over contract renewals and signal an exodus from the club.

“I don’t think it will affect that, because Barça is Barça and the club and the badge are above individuals. Here throughout history – good and bad – very good and very bad news has happened, knowing that the club is above everything, I know that the intention of the project is to continue improving the budgets for the following seasons and to continue betting on the women’s section because it works a lot and very well.”

Last week, Giráldez was named on the three person shortlist to win The Best FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year for the first time. This week, a fourth straight Champions League group stage win will seal FC Barcelona’s place in the quarer-finals of the competition with two games to spare.

He hopes he can leave the club on a high by successfully defending the Champions League with the final to be played in Bilbao this spring. Nonetheless he said, “I would like to be remembered as a person who has left everything at this club, who has dedicated a lot, everything and more; that he has always had the intention of doing things in the best way; that he has had the players as the true protagonists of everything achieved; to be part of everything that is being achieved in this process of evolution of women’s football.”

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