Confirming what was likely the biggest open secret in football this season, Pep Guardiola has said that he plans on taking a job at a Premier League club after his contract at Bayern Munich is finished this spring.
“I need a new challenge and I want to use that chance to be a manager in England. I want to experience the atmosphere in England and I look forward to the stadiums there. I am 44 and it is the right time.”
The former Barcelona manager took the reins at Bayern Munich in 2013 following the departure of Jupp Heynckes. Under Guardiola’s leadership Bayern have won two league titles and are on course for a third, although they have yet to replicate their success in the Champions League from the 2012-13 campaign. Guardiola announced right before Christmas that he will not renew his contract with the Bundesliga juggernauts, and with several potential openings in the Premier League it seemed to be a given that England would be Pep’s next port of call.
As for which club he intends to sign with next, Guardiola was non-committal. “There are offers but I haven’t signed for anyone yet. When I have a new club I will let everyone know.”
The three obvious destinations are Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea. Of those three, City appear to be in pole position to land Guardiola. They’ve harbored a long-held admiration for the architect of Tiki-Taka at Barça and have enough money in the bank to offer Guardiola whatever he wants in terms of compensation.
Several former Barcelona executives are now at City, with former Barça GM Ferran Soriano currently serving as chief executive at City (as well as NYCFC and Melbourne City) and Txiki Begiristain the sporting director. Those personal relationships with Guardiola are thought to give City an advantage over United and Chelsea.
Current MCFC manager Manuel Pellegrini is under contract until spring 2017 but this doesn’t appear to be much of an obstacle. While Louis van Gaal’s position at Old Trafford is supposedly under scrutiny, United seem committed to giving the current regime every chance to turn things around. Chelsea, of course, are on the lookout for a permanent managerial appointment since cutting José Mourinho loose last month.
In the meantime, there’s still the second half of this season to keep Guardiola busy. The Bundesliga resumes on January 22nd and Die Roten will be looking to lock down the league championship and make a run for another Champions League title. Pep wants to focus on the rest of this season and leave Bayern with no regrets.
“I will give my absolute best until the end. If I was 60 or 65 I would have stayed but I think I am too young. It was a dream, it is a dream. I am very grateful to Bayern for this huge opportunity. I will not take any players. They have to stay here.”