MUNICH: Pep Guardiola has said he did not wish to extend his contract with German champions Bayern Munich because of his ambition to manage in the English Premier League.
Last month the Spaniard confirmed he would be standing down as head coach at the end of the campaign after three successful years at the helm.
It inevitably led to heighten speculation about the former Barcelona boss moving to England, with Manchester City the odds-on favourites though he has been linked with possible competitive interest from Chelsea and Manchester United.
“The only reason I am not renewing my contract is that I am looking for a new challenge,” the 44-year-old told a press conference, as reported by Bayern’s Twitter feed.
“It was a dream, it is a dream. I am very grateful to Bayern for this huge opportunity.”
Guardiola took over from Jupp Heynckes in the summer of 2013 on a three-year contract and has won back-to-back Bundesliga crowns, as well as the DFB-Pokal, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
That haul is almost certainly going to be added to this season, complementing an impressive trophy haul that includes, amongst others, two Champions League and three Primera Division titles from his time as Barcelona boss.
Manchester City are favourites to bring Guardiola to English football.
The Catalan worked previously with City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Beguiristain during his time at Barca.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is said to be a great admirer of Guardiola and is on the look-out for a permanent successor to Jose Mourinho, with Guus Hiddink in interim charge at Stamford Bridge until the end of the season.
As for United, Louis van Gaal’s immediate future seems secure but Manchester United could possibly be tempted to replace one former Bayern Munich boss with another.
City’s current manager Manuel Pellegrini has had to deal with recurring speculation linking Guardiola with his position throughout his tenure at the club.
The latest developments will have come as no surprise to him but he was unwilling to comment when asked at his latest press conference.
Pellegrini said: “I don’t have a reaction about that or feelings on other managers. It is a question I answered two weeks ago when I said no more about that.”