MANCHESTER: Spaniard Txiki Begiristain has been appointed as director of football by Manchester City, a move which will increase speculation that the English champions have their long-term eyes on Pep Guardiola writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Begiristain, 48-year-old former Spain midfielder, held the same position between 2003 and 2010 at Barcelona when the Catalan club achieved a virtual monopoly of world, European and Spanish club titles.

City said he would “take responsibility for supporting the first-team manager, Roberto Mancini, in first-team recruitment and operations.”

However it is inevitable that City will be placed high in the queue of clubs hoping to lure Guardiola once the all-conquering ex-Barcelona coach approaches the end of his ‘sabbatical.’ Guardiola and his family, partly to escape such pressure, are currently living in New York.

He is reported to have had informal meetings with various European football leaders including Manchester United chief executive David Gill and manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

Aitor Begiristain scored six goals in 22 appearances for Spain in the 1980s and 1990s when he played his club football with Real Sociedad of his native San Sebastian and Barcelona. He was a member, along with Guardiola, of Johan Cruyff’s so-called Barcelona ‘dream team’ and the Dutchman always said that ‘Txiki’ was his most intelligent footballer.

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