Pep Guardiola to leave Barcelona: Chelsea and Manchester City interested

Changing of the guard: Guardiola's exit poser for Chelsea and Manchester City

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 26 April 2012

Pep Guardiola is expected to announce a decision on his future on Friday and at least two English clubs, and two Italian managers, await it with interest.

If he chooses to leave the Nou Camp at the end of this season, and the Catalan media appear convinced that is indeed the news he will deliver to round off a disastrous 10 days for Barcelona, does he replace Roberto Di Matteo at Chelsea or Roberto Mancini at Manchester City

The multi-billionaire owners of both clubs would be interested in hiring him. Alongside Jose Mourinho, the 41-year-old former Spain midfielder has become the most coveted coach in football.

Leaving so soon Pep Guardiola is set to leave Barcelona despite a trophy-laden spell at the club

Leaving so soon Pep Guardiola is set to leave Barcelona despite a trophy-laden spell at the club

But those who claimed to be in the know in Barcelona insisted he will not be going anywhere else for a while, the need for a year-long sabbatical coming before any desire to accept a mind-boggling offer from Roman Abramovich or Sheik Mansour.

Let’s face it, he would have to be slightly nuts to trade the finest club side we have seen for the challenges at Stamford Bridge or the Etihad. Lionel Messi or David Silva Xavi and Iniesta or Mata and Malouda With the greatest respect to some fine players who might yet emerge as champions of England and Europe this season, it would be a step down.

More money The latter isn’t thought to be Guardiola’s style. The man has class, so we must assume a decision to quit would be based on health and lifestyle alone.He is said to be suffering from serious burn-out, and wants time off for much the same reason Frank Rijkaard did after a brief but phenomenally successful spell in charge at the Nou Camp.

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola

Feeling the strain: Guardiola looks set to end his reign at Barcelona without the league or Champions League

Guardiola has not just won 13 trophies in four years but taken the club to another level with his unique footballing philosophy. Yet the demands of the job may well have taken their toll given the intense scrutiny under which the manager of Barcelona is placed.

Even before Barca lost their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday night, back-to-back defeats by Chelsea and Real Madrid were being hailed as the end of an era. In the press conference Guardiola gave on Monday, it was clear he was unimpressed.

Not everyone is like Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger. On Thursday, the 70-year-old manager of Manchester United described himself as a ‘masochist’ of nearly 26 years, and one only has to recall one of his main reasons for shelving the plans he had to retire more than 10 years ago. He just could not walk away from such a talented group of players, just as he could not imagine someone else in charge of them.

It appears Guardiola can. It’s just not certain what he does next.

Learning from the master: Guardiola (left) played under Louis Van Gaal at Barcelona

Learning from the master: Guardiola (left) played under Louis Van Gaal at Barcelona

The leading Barcelona newspaper, El Mundo Deportivo, suggested Guardiola might soon be occupying a role at the FA, possibly as a consultant but perhaps as a permanent successor to Fabio Capello. The same Capello, it is worth noting with a view to Chelsea, who declared a desire to manage ‘for another two years . . . in the Premier League’.

What we can say with confidence is that Guardiola will not be the next England manager. The FA are refusing to discuss a search that is still expected to end with the appointment of Harry Redknapp.

Guardiola is not on their radar for the main job anyway. Talk of him becoming the new technical director has also been dismissed. Agents claiming to represent the Barcelona manager contacted the FA when Capello quit in February but they were ignored, not least because their links to Guardiola did not appear terribly strong.

Guardiola met his employers on
Wednesday and we are told he was offered whatever he wanted in a bid to
persuade him to stay. More money not only for himself but for new
players.

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola

Through the ages: Pep Guardiola spent most of his playing career at the Catalan giants

He said no, it is claimed, but he was then asked to take another day to think things over; to let the pain and frustration of Tuesday night’s defeat by Chelsea subside a little.

On Friday, however, he is expected to break the news to his players before joining Sandro Rosell, the Barcelona president, in giving a press conference.

The timing is far from ideal for City and Chelsea. City no more want to unsettle Mancini, just days before the biggest Manchester derby in history, than Chelsea want to send Di Matteo into two cup finals convinced he cannot keep his job. They will do nothing, particularly when it might well turn out that no amount of money can tempt Guardiola to come to the Barclays Premier League just yet.

They are sure to ask the question at some point, though, irrespective of what happens between now and the end of the season. It just might make sense to stick with what they have for now, and wait.