Saturday 24 August 2019

Man City blow as Guardiola sets his sights on United job

Guardiola: Premier League bound?
Guardiola: Premier League bound?

Sam Wallace

Pep Guardiola is understood to see Manchester United as his preferred option when he makes his next move, potentially next summer, which would give the club a decision to make as to whether they part company with Louis van Gaal.

Bayern Munich, Guardiola's current club, want to resolve his future over the winter break and would like the 44-year-old to sign a new contract to follow his deal that expires next summer. However, the club that the German champions believe Guardiola has ambitions to manage above all is United, to whom Van Gaal is contracted for one more season after this.

Bayern president Karl Heinz Rummenigge said last week that the issue of Guardiola's future would be resolved by the new year. Guardiola has proven notoriously difficult to pin down in the past, preferring to announce decisions at the last moment, but Bayern have indicated that they are not prepared to wait into the new season for an answer.

Reading the signs on Guardiola's next move has always been a tricky science, but there is no question that the preoccupation in Munich is with his interest in United. Alex Ferguson disclosed in his most recent book that he made an informal approach to Guardiola over dinner in New York in the September of his last season, 2012-13. The younger man agreed terms with Bayern without further contact.

United would have to part with Van Gaal if they were to land Guardiola, although given Guardiola's status, and the new culture of regular change at the top of Europe's biggest clubs, it is unlikely they would baulk at a pay-off of around £7m for their Dutch manager.

He has long been linked with Manchester City and their director of football, Txiki Begiristain, considers Guardiola their priority appointment, although he has never given them any assurances about coming one day.

Current City manager Manuel Pellegrini again dealt with questions over his future. "It is a rumour that we have had for the last two and a half seasons here," he said ahead of yesterday's league win over Southampton.

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. Reports yesterday claimed that it was likely that the Premier League would also represent Guardiola's last job in club management, with one source suggesting Guardiola is likely to want to step away from club football by the age of 50, partly because of the demanding way he works.


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