Guardiola may be open to new City deal
Pep Guardiola has less than two years left on his deal but he may be willing to prolong his stay at Manchester City beyond 2021, claim Etihad insiders.
Under the guidance of the Catalan, the Citizens have established a firm stranglehold of the Premier League during the last two years.
After a 2017-18 title procession which saw his team become the first in English top-flight history to amass 100 points, they defended their Premier League crown last term as they finished on 98 points.
Liverpool might have finished just a solitary point behind – a record for the runners-up – but they could only look on powerless as Guardiola duly inspired his men to win their remaining 14 games – also becoming the only team to also beat the Anfield outfit last term.
This season is already shaping up for a similar fight to the death, with the Reds currently boasting a 100 per cent league record at the top, with their rivals the champions sat just two points back in second.
Guardiola quit Bayern Munich for City in the summer of 2016 and proceeded to purge their ageing squad during his first 12 months, spending £215m in the process.
The 48-year-old’s longest managerial stint so far are his four years at Barcelona – where he picked up two Champions League titles – before stepping down and going on a year’s sabbatical to recharge his frazzled batteries.
Some suggestions, or perhaps hope from City’s rivals, is the former Camp Nou midfielder will do something similar when his £15m-per-year deal with the Manchester giants is up in the summer of 2021.
That would mean Guardiola will have been at City five years, but there are already hints behind the scenes that he might not be ready to call it a day and he would be open to another extension.
City insiders are at pains to state Pep is “very excited” with the potential high ceiling of his young players and what they might be able to achieve in the next few seasons.
The average age of his squad is 25 and there is certainly no doubt the club’s Abu Dhabi royal owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, would not have to think twice if his manager gives the nod that he wishes to extend his stay beyond then.
People close to Guardiola have revealed how he has embraced both the club and Mancunian culture, purchasing an apartment in the city centre and opening a restaurant.
It’s also understood his three children are happy in England and are at a critical stage in their secondary education.
He has regularly stated how at City he has “everything he needs”, working in tandem alongside his long-time friends from Barcelona, director of football Txiki Begiristain and CEO Ferran Soriano.
Others mention his “siege mentality” and how he feels City might get a “raw deal” when it comes to some decisions and the regular thumbing of noses from football’s supposed established pecking-order of clubs, not exactly shy themselves when it comes to breaking transfer records down the decades.
There is also a wider misconception Guardiola MUST win the Champions League trophy during his tenure and he is under massive pressure from his employers to do so.
City, however, still feel they need to focus on dominating domestically for a sustained period, akin to what rivals Manchester United and Liverpool were able to do for so long.
All the same, there is no doubt Guardiola would surely love to add another Champions League trophy to his incredible CV – but it is his family’s immediate happiness and whether his players continue to listen to his obsessive footballing mantra, which dictates his overall mindset.
As long as that remains a constant, the feeling inside City is their rivals in both England and abroad, should not try to second-guess when Pep will eventually decide to contemplate pastures new.
Gareth Freeman is an experienced journalist who can offer in-depth knowledge on a host of sports, especially football, tennis, snooker and basketball.