Bayern Munich loyalty to Pep Guardiola prompts Jurgen Klopp to embrace Liverpool challenge
Jurgen Klopp is ready to succeed Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool manager after being told he would have to wait until January before discovering whether he would replace Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich.
Klopp, who guided Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles, a German Cup and runners-up spot in the Champions League before resigning after seven years in charge at the end of last season, had been widely tipped in Germany to succeed Guardiola as Bayern coach when the Spaniard’s three-year contract expires next summer.
But with Bayern determined to persuade Guardiola to extend his contract, the German champions are now prepared to wait until the new year before making a firm decision on their coaching position.
While Klopp is understood to have identified Bayern as the perfect club with which to return to management following his self-imposed sabbatical, the risk of waiting until January and then discovering that Guardiola is prepared to stay in Munich has prompted the 48-year-old to embrace the challenge of reviving Liverpool.
Guardiola has maintained a neutral stance on his future, only insisting that he will honour his contract with the German champions.
Bayern have been bullish about their chances of retaining the former Barcelona coach, however, with chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge insisting last month that he was ‘definitely optimistic that Pep will stay beyond June 30, 2016.’
With Bayern aware of Manchester City’s determination to recruit Guardiola as manager at the Etihad - and Guardiola’s close relationship with City director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano - Rummenigge and the Bayern hierarchy are planning talks with Guardiola later this month in an effort to negotiate a contract extension.
But with Bayern also wary of losing Guardiola without a top-class replacement lined up, the club has identified January as the deadline for an agreement.
The four-month wait proved too lengthy for Klopp, who could not agree to postpone his return to management on the basis of a possibility at Bayern, but the timescale would suit Carlo Ancelotti, the former AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid coach, who is currently out of work, but open to offers from leading clubs.
Guardiola’s decision at Bayern, whenever he resolves his future, is likely to have to implications for a series of Premier League clubs, most notably City, Manchester United and Arsenal, who have all been closely linked with the 44-year-old in recent seasons.
City’s interest is clear and long-standing and, although Manuel Pellegrini signed a contract extension tying him to the club until the end of the 2016-17 season in August, the Chilean’s position would be under serious threat if Guardiola makes himself available next summer.
United had identified Guardiola as their first-choice to replace Sir Alex Ferguson following his retirement in May 2013, but Bayern had already secured his services.
However, with Louis van Gaal insisting he will retire at the end of his contract in the summer of 2017, United would make a concerted effort to hire Guardiola if he signs a one-year extension at Bayern, therefore making him available at the same time as Van Gaal’s planned departure.
Arsenal’s situation is less clear-cut due to no sense of Arsene Wenger’s plans to walk away from the club, but the club’s history, financial strength and location in London would appeal to Guardiola.
A move into international football is unlikely, however, with Guardiola walking out of a Bayern press conference last month after being asked about the possibility of managing England.