Saturday 21 September 2019

Guardiola eyes Premier League move as City deny 'pre-contract' claims

Munich's coach Pep Guardiola
Munich's coach Pep Guardiola

Jason Burt

Pep Guardiola is understood to have told friends that when he leaves Bayern Munich his next managerial job will be in the Premier League.

Previously wanted by both Manchester clubs, and Chelsea, Guardiola will also be aware of the potential that exists at Arsenal when Arsene Wenger eventually steps down.

Guardiola cancelled a press conference ahead of Bayern's match against Hertha Berlin, in the midst of renewed claims from Spain that he had agreed a pre-contract with City to succeed Manuel Pellegrini and take over there next season.

The story first surfaced last spring and was again robustly dismissed by senior City sources yesterday. Guardiola may have simply pulled out of the media briefing because he is tired of the speculation although he knows it will continue until he signs a new contract at Bayern. The club said he cancelled for personal reasons.

However, the confidence that the coach will sign a new deal has ebbed away a little at Bayern. The club had hoped to announce a new contract - his present one runs out at the end of this season - in time for the annual meeting which took place yesterday evening in Munich.

Now Bayern's president, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, has suggested he hopes to sit down with Guardiola before Christmas, and after the final league match of the year, away to Hannover on December 19. But Bayern are less certain Guardiola will stay and, if he does, it will be on a shorter-term deal.

Guardiola, and his brother Pere, who acts as his adviser, have played their cards close to their chests as they did when the 44-year-old took a year's sabbatical after leaving Barcelona and before joining Bayern when he declined the chance to take over at United.

What is known is that Guardiola does want to work in England - eventually - regarding the Premier League as a logical destination after Spain and Germany. He already speaks perfect English.

Indeed a source who knows him well indicated that it was likely that the Premier League would also represent Guardiola's last job in club management. He said Guardiola is likely to want to step away from club football by the age of 50, partly because of the demanding way he works.

Chelsea - who previously asked him to name his price - and United - who involved Alex Ferguson in their wooing - have made attempts to recruit Guardiola in the past. He has long been linked with City, partly because club chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain, previously worked at Barcelona.

Pellegrini again dealt with the issue. "It is a rumour that we have had for the last two-and-a-half seasons here," he said ahead of the game against Southampton. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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