It’s said that coaches are hired to be fired. Pep Guardiola doesn’t agree. After three years with Bayern Munich, Guardiola has decided he’s had enough of life in Bavaria, and will step aside at the end of this season. His decision will surely start a bidding war among Europe’s elite for the Spaniard’s signature. Where Guardiola goes next is up for him to decide, and he may have already made that decision. But even then, there are plenty of teams willing to open up their checkbooks, and offer the world’s most sought after coach a hefty payday.
Guardiola is expected to make a move to the English Premier League. It’s been rumored for some time that he wants the challenge of competing in England. After winning two consecutive league trophies in Germany, and likely a third this season, he seems keen on a new challenge. With which club he wants to start that challenge is anybody’s guess, but here are four possible landing spots for Europe’s most wanted man.
1. Manchester City
Starting with the most obvious choice, we have Manchester City. Over the past year there have been more than enough rumors about Guardiola managing City, so this might be a case of where there’s smoke, there’s fire. City are itching for success in Europe, and so far they have been unsuccessful. Like most of the big clubs in England, they have spent an obscene amount of money on a squad to compete in the Champions League. So far those efforts were not fruitful. Guardiola has a European pedigree that City are after.
Recent transfer windows have seen City bring in the type of players Pep likes. Raheem Sterling is a young pacey winger, the type he’s grown fond of in Munich. Sterling isn’t quite at that level, but he’s a player for Guardiola to mold. Kevin De Bruyne is another Guardiola kind of player. He’s a great ball mover, and he’s able to play in a variety of positions. Along with the likes of Sergio Aguero, and Yaya Toure, Guardiola would have a team built to keep possession and attack.
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) December 20, 2015
2. Manchester United
Fans on the red side of Manchester aren’t particularly happy with current boss Louis van Gaal. It would be somewhat poetic for Guardiola to take over at Old Trafford. Guardiola took over at Barcelona a few years after van Gaal was in charge, and he took over at Bayern Munich a few years after van Gaal again. It seems fitting that Pep would follow the Dutchman once again. Unlike Manchester City, United are a little behind on rebuilding their squad. There are some pieces for Guardiola to work with, but largely the squad isn’t up to snuff when it comes to competing in Europe.
One thing though, Guardiola would have a tremendous amount of money to spend if he came to Manchester United. The Red Devils might be far more interested in letting Guardiola spend that money rather than van Gaal. Given a massive war chest, and a hefty salary could be enough to convince the ex-Bayern Munich trainer.
If Pep is looking for a different kind of challenge, one that tests his team building as much as tactical prowess, United might be the best place for that.
Of all the clubs on this list, Chelsea is the only side that actually has a manager position open. Not long after letting Jose Mourinho go, it wouldn’t be surprising for team owner Roman Abramovich to throw a lot of money at the man he wanted three years ago. It was no secret to anyone that Chelsea tried to get Guardiola back in 2013, but were snubbed when the coach opted for Germany instead.
This time around, Abramovich is keen to sign the coach, with some reports in England suggesting that money is no issue. If Abramovich is able to land his dream trainer, Guardiola will take over a team shrouded in mystery at the moment. For most of this season, Chelsea have looked uninspiring, but this past weekend’s trouncing of Sunderland some people are wondering if Mourinho just lost the dressing room.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 18, 2015
Regardless, Guardiola would be given plenty of money to spend if he decides to join Chelsea. On top of that, he has a squad that is pretty good as is, depending on what you think has been the big issue for them this season. Three years ago, Chelsea began assembling a squad to suit Guardiola, but he turned them down. Abramovich will do whatever he can to try and keep that from happening again.
Guardiola coaching in North London is a long shot for two reasons. First, it’s unlikely that Arsene Wenger is going anywhere considering how well Arsenal are playing right now. Second, if their season does fall apart and Arsenal tumbles down to a fourth place finish, by that time Guardiola will probably have decided his future.
That said, Arsenal presents an interesting opportunity for Pep. They’re a historic club, in one of the world’s biggest cities, and they’ve never won the Champions League. Being the first coach to win that trophy for the Gunners could be an irresistible challenge. Arsenal also has plenty of players that suit Guardiola’s possession game. One such player, Mesut Ozil, would surely take an even larger step forward in his career under Guardiola’s tutelage.
It would be unfair to Wenger if the club decided to make a move for Guardiola, and that probably won’t happen. However, Arsenal present Guardiola with a squad closest to his style of play. United, City and Chelsea are all great teams, but Arsenal might be Pep’s best fit stylistically.