MADRID: Manuel Pellegrini has been offered a clear path north to Manchester City and the Premier League after Malaga confirmed increasing speculation about the Chilean’s imminent departure.

City, who sacked Roberto Mancini despite finishing runners-up in both league and FA Cup, have been impressed by Pellegrini’s success in  leading an under-rated side to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and a current sixth place in La Liga.

Pellegrini, who had two years left on his contract, said:  “Everyone has the right and obligation to follow his path and Malaga has to take another. The club has the need and the obligation to have a realistic project. Malaga has a story without Manuel Pellegrini, and (is) also going to have a future without Manuel Pellegrini.

“My coaching staff and I . . . had a time with the club that was very rewarding. Everyone has the right to move on. Sunday will be my last match at La Rosaleda and will be very exciting for me.

“I’m not leaving due to the matter of money but looking for a project that allows me to develop my profession conveniently.”

Ironically, Pellegrini’s announcement came on the day  UEFA confirmed that Malaga had had the second year of their European ban for unpaid bills lifted.

The Qatari-owned club had been handed a two-year ban from European competition, with one year suspended, and fined €300,000 but the suspended year has now been quashed.

The first year will still stand, however, meaning the club will not compete in Europe next season should they qualify and that appears to have had a bearing on Pellegrini’s decision.

Malaga seem certain to finish in the Europa League places as they sit five points clear of eighth-placed Rayo Vallecano with two games left to play.

Pellegrini first moved to Europe in 2004 with Villarreal whom he guided to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006 and  second place in the league in 2008. Pellegrini then spent one season at Real Madrid before moving to Malaga in November 2010.