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May 30, 2013

Djukic exit ignites Liga job speculation

La Liga's summer managerial merry-go-round was sent whirling on Wednesday when Miroslav Djukic confirmed he is leaving Real Valladolid in the summer, a decision which could affect the jobs at Valencia, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao, Malaga and even Barcelona, Real Madrid and Benfica.

Djukic will depart Valladolid after two seasons in charge - the first which brought promotion from the Segunda Division, the second safety in mid-table in La Liga - despite having a year left on his contract.

"It is time to look for other challenges," the Serbian told Marca. "I decided a few months ago, but I did not tell the president until we were safe from relegation. It was a three-year project, but the players are guilty of fulfilling it in only two. We have consolidated the team in the top division, and with its own style of play."

Asked about rumours that he would now replace Ernesto Valverde at Valencia, or Jorge Jesus at Benfica, Djukic responded: "I do not know yet where I will coach next season."

Meanwhile, at Valencia, Valverde was facing questions about his own future, given that he has yet to agree a deal with incoming club president Amadeo Salvo amid the ongoing institutional crisis at the Mestalla.

'El Txingurri' told Superdeporte this situation would be resolved soon, and he did not enjoy the suggestion he could join Barcelona if Blaugrana coach Tito Vilanova stepped down for health reasons.

"I am not going to speak about [whether I am staying]," Valverde told reporters. "Now is the time to decipher all these issues, but we need to wait two more days. I will do what I think is best for the team. I understand the speculation, but I do not enjoy being linked with Barca, because their coach is going through a difficult situation."

Should Valverde leave Valencia it seems more likely he would pitch up back at former club Athletic Bilbao, where current coach Marcelo Bielsa has also yet to agree a deal to continue next term.

Bielsa, who has been mentioned in speculative reports as a possible replacement for Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, told journalists at Athletic's Lezama training facility that he could not answer questions about next season's team as his future remained up in the air.

"I will only be responsible for that if I am attached to a future project, and at this moment I am not," El Loco said.

One La Liga club who do know who their coach will be next season is Rayo Vallecano, who confirmed Paco Jemez has signed new two-year deal to stay on after guiding the cash-strapped club into a potential Europa League spot in his first season in charge.

"Rayo Vallecano announced that Paco Jemez has officially renewed as first team coach of the club until June 30 2015," a statement said on Rayo's official website, which also stated that assistant coach Jesus Munoz and physical preparation coach Julio Munoz had agreed new two-year deals.

Jemez had been linked with the vacancy left at Malaga by Manuel Pellegrini's impending departure for Manchester City, while Real Sociedad are also looking to replace their outgoing boss Philippe Montanier.

Both Malaga and Sociedad have been linked with former Paraguay and current Newell's Old Boys' manager Gerardo 'Tata' Martino, who played under Bielsa at Newell's.

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