MUNICH: Bayern Munich have won the race to sign up Pep Guardiola when the 42-year-9ld former Barcelona coach ends his year-long sabbatical in the summer.
Guardiola stepped down at Camp Nou last June after a sensational four-year reign at the start of his managerial career. He and his family have been living in New York where Guardiola has been courted by Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, among others.
However, while he maintains ambitions to work one day in English football, Guardiola has been attracted the most by the boardroom security and promises of secure tenure offered by Bayern. He has agreed a contract to take him through to the summer of 2016.
Guardiola will succeed Jupp Heynckes whose work and commitment to Bayern has been praised club bosses.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chief executive of Bayern, said: “We are very pleased that we have succeeded in bringing in this football professor who was courted by many famous clubs and contacts.
“Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world and we are sure that he can bring enormous extra polish to both Bayern and German football. We are looking forward to his arrival in July.”
Club president Uli Hoeness, notably impatient scourge of Bayern coaches, said the club was extremely grateful for the work Heynckes had put in since stepping in for sacked Louis Van Gaal in midseason two years ago.
Hoeness added: “To follow a great coach like Jupp Heynckes it takes a coach of the calibre of a Pep Guardiola. ”
Heynckes, whose contract expires in the summer, has expression his intention of retiring then.
As Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola i Sala won 14 titles in four years, including the Champions League twice. As a defensive midfielder he scored five goals in 47 games for Spain and, in 1992, won the Champions Cup with Barcelona and Olympic Games gold with Spain.
He started coaching work with the Barcelona youth teams where he was influential in developing the careers of stars such as Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
Manchester City and Chelsea will be the most upset by Guardiola’s decision particularly after his comments in praise of English football in a video message recorded for the launch party of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich had made no secret of his money-no-object wish to land Guardiola. He was rebuffed last summer and then again in October when Chelsea sacked Roberto Di Matteo.
City had hoped that Guardiola would be swayed in their favour by the presence in senior executive positions of former Barcelona directors Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain.
Guardiola’s preference for Bayern – German football’s so-called ‘FC Hollywood’ – offers a little extra security of tenure to both Rafa Benitez at Chelsea and Roberto Mancini at Manchester City.
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