Manchester City favourites to seal deal for departing Bayern boss Pep Guardiola

 
Ross McLean
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Top Premier League clubs were placed on amber alert yesterday after former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola confirmed his intention to step down as Bayern Munich head coach at the end of the season.

Manchester City are the bookmakers’ favourites to land the Spaniard’s signature, especially given the strong ex-Barcelona connection already in place at the Etihad Stadium. Guardiola worked with City chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Beguiristain while at Camp Nou.

Reigning champions Chelsea are another potential destination for Guardiola having dispensed with Jose Mourinho last week and subsequently appointed Dutchman Guus Hiddink as interim manager until the end of the current campaign.

Mourinho’s departure had already intensified the increasingly glare of the spotlight onto under-pressure Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal, who admitted that he was worried for his job in the wake of Saturday’s 2-1 home loss to Norwich City.

United are currently outside the Champions League places so Van Gaal’s position could come under further scrutiny should the Old Trafford club continue to stall and stutter this term.

Sir Alex Ferguson is known to have courted Guardiola in 2012 ahead of his retirement, although failed to persuade Guardiola to choose Old Trafford over 25-time German champions Bayern.

“We’re grateful to Guardiola for everything he has given to our club since 2013,” read a statement from Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

“I am convinced Pep and our team are now going to work even more intensively on realising our sporting ambitions, particularly now that it has been confirmed that Pep will be leaving Bayern.”

Guardiola won 14 trophies, including two Champions League crown during four years in the Barcelona hotseat, while the 44-year-old has guided league leaders Bayern successive Bundesliga titles since arriving at the Allianz Arena in 2013.

As expected, Bayern have confirmed that former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will succeed Guardiola in the summer, having agreed a three-year deal.