Guardiola clears the way for move to City
Pep Guardiola has freed himself up for a move to the Premier League next season, with the expected confirmation from Bayern Munich that he has refused to sign a new contract. Carlo Ancelotti will succeed him as the club's head coach next July.
Rather than sparking a mad scramble for his signature, however, there is a growing expectation that Guardiola will take over from Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City next summer.
City have strongly denied claims that a deal has already been struck with the 44-year-old who has told close friends that his next destination will be England, and the Premier League, having managed so successfully at Bayern and, before that, Barcelona.
Once he has worked in the Premier League it is thought Guardiola will then pursue a career as a national team coach - he harbours an ambition to manage Brazil - or even retire by the age of 50.
Pellegrini signed a contract extension in August, taking him to the season after this, but is acutely aware that Guardiola's availability will raise further questions over his future.
Guardiola has a good relationship with the former Barcelona executives Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain who are now chief executive and director of football at City.
Both Chelsea - who are searching for a full-time successor to Jose Mourinho with Guus Hiddink in charge until the end of the season - and Manchester United would be expected to be also interested in Guardiola given their previous pursuit of him.
United, however, have given no indication that they will replace Louis van Gaal, despite his current troubles, and there were suggestions recently that the club may even have some doubts about Guardiola's suitability for English football.
If true, that would appear a curious stance from the club although it is also entirely possible they already know that the Spaniard's future plans are already decided and are therefore distancing themselves.
Guardiola has spoken warmly about United in the past and he also has a high admiration for Arsenal, although there are no indications whatsoever that Arsene Wenger might be willing to step aside.
City represents a cash-rich club with the potential to help push forward a new superpower in European football. Furthermore, he would have full autonomy there as opposed to the control exerted on the manager at Chelsea.
It could also be that Guardiola is considering another season-long sabbatical although he has not shown any signs of the burnout that led to his departure from Barcelona.
Once it became clear that Guardiola did not intent to sign a new contract, Bayern opened talks with Ancelotti, who has signed a three-year contract.