Pep Guardiola is set to start a scramble for his services by stepping down as Barcelona head coach. Chelsea, Manchester City and both Milan clubs will be alerted, although Guardiola is believed to be keen to take a year off. That is unlikely to deter Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, a longtime admirer of the Catalan coach, in a bid to lure him to Stamford Bridge.
Following Barcelona’s stunning defeat by Chelsea on Tuesday and the impending coronation of Real Madrid as champions of Spain, 41-year-old Guardiola informed the club of his decision, which is thought to be that he feels both he and the players would benefit from a change.
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is likely to announce on Friday whether he is staying or leaving the Spanish champions, a source close to the team said on Thursday.
The fact that Guardiola has yet to sign a new Camp Nou contract has led to intense speculation on his future with rumours rife that he will quit on Friday.
Guardiola, 41-year-old architect of one of Barcelona’s most successful footballing eras, said on Tuesday that he would be speaking to Barca president Sandro Rosell in the coming days to decide his future.
The Barca coach revealed he would be holding the pivotal meeting at a news conference after Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea.
Barcelona’s Champions League exit and their loss to Real Madrid on Saturday — which led Guardiola to concede the league title will go to Madrid — has led some to speculate about a mini-slump.
But Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said Monday he was convinced that Guardiola will continue at the helm.
“I think he’s going to keep going — he loves this club, he loves his profession,” he said. “I think there is no bigger passion for him than football and FC Barcelona. So really I bet he will be with us next year.”
Spain’s press was filled with rumours Thursday about Guardiola’s possible departure but none of the reports quoted named sources and the club declined to comment.
In April last year Guardiola told Italian television Rai Sports that he felt his time as Barcelona coach was coming to a close.
“I feel good here but I believe my time at Barcelona is ending,” the coach said.
“I’ve already done three years, one more will be four years. And in four years a big club needs a lot of courage to keep the same coach. Everyone should know when it’s the right time to go, as I always heard when I was a player.”
The coach extended his contract with Barcelona by a season in February 2011 and his new deal expires in June this year.
Guardiola, who spent most of his playing career at Barcelona, coached Barcelona’s B team before taking control of the first-team squad in June 2008 from Dutchman Frank Rijkaard. Di Matteo has strengthened his claim by leading Chelsea to the Champions League and FA Cup finals and the merits of handing the Italian the job will be discussed despite the possibility of Guardiola becoming available.