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Washington Spirit announce Barcelona’s Jonatan Giraldez as new head coach

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Jonatan Giráldez (Ramsey Cardy/UEFA via Getty Images)

Jonatan Giráldez has been named the next head coach of the Washington Spirit, with the club announcing the news on Tuesday.

He joins the Spirit from FC Barcelona Femení, where he has coached since 2019, starting out as an assistant. Back in December, Giráldez announced that he would be leaving Barcelona upon the conclusion of the team’s current campaign for a job “outside of Europe.”

Reports had indicated that job was the Washington Spirit job, although Giráldez would not confirm his next move at the time.

“I can only say it’s outside of Europe,” he said, noting that the decision was a “difficult” one to make. “I would not want to compete against Barça.”

In a release on Tuesday, the Spirit said that hiring Giráldez continued the club’s vision “to build the most preeminent sports organization with a high-performance culture of winning.”

“We conducted an extensive global, data-driven search and found that Jona is the best choice to lead our players. His commitment to excellence and high-performance is second to none and the results speak for themselves including consecutive La Liga and Supercopa titles and multiple top coach honors,” said Spirit owner Michele Kang. “We are grateful for his decision to join us. He will help take the Spirit to the next leveI for both players and fans.”

With Barcelona, Giráldez has helped the team to its first Champions League trophy as an assistant coach. Since being named head coach for the 2021-22 season, he’s won the Queen’s Cup, two Supercopas, two Primera División titles, the most recent Champions League title and had a 50-game winning streak in Spanish league play.

Spirit president of soccer operations Mark Krikorian called Giráldez the “ideal” coach to help the team achieve its vision.

“Jona knows how to develop players into champions,” he said. “He will bring a beautiful style of play to the Spirit that we know our fans will enjoy.”

In a statement, Giráldez said that he is “very excited” about the opportunity to lead the Spirit.

“It’s a great honor and a greater responsibility to help bring the club to the next level so I will dedicate my heart and soul to make everyone around the team proud and part of something great,” said Giráldez. “I really want to thank Michele and Mark for the opportunity my family and myself have been given. I will be looking forward to meeting the staff, players and fans in DC soon.”

Giráldez will remain with Barcelona through the end of its Champions League season, which could be as late as the Champions League final on May 25. An interim head coach will be named until then.