Who could Man City turn to if Pep Guardiola walks away?
Manchester City's two-year ban from European football has, inevitably, led to speculation Pep Guardiola could opt to end his tenure at the end of the season.
The Catalan coach has previously stated he intends to honour his current contract, and potentially stick around for longer, but the fact he won’t be able to challenge for the Champions League could well be a game changer.
As it stands, Guardiola is under contract until 2021 although City are unlikely to insists he sees it out if he does want to leave in the summer.
A lot can happen between now and then. The club will undoubtedly appeal UEFA’s decision to ban them for two years, but that hasn’t stopped the rumour mill from turning.
W’ve taken a look at who the bookies think might replace the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss if he does call time on his stay in Manchester.
Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino is the current favourite in the betting market and would be available immediately because he is without a club.
The Argentine has been considered a frontrunner for the Manchester United job if they decide to axe Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Old Trafford outfit have stuck by the Norwegian so far, though, and City could nip in and land Pochettino if Guardiola does decide to move on.
A lack of Champions League football is likely to be an issue for any prospective manager but as Pochettino is without a club, and already knows the Premier League after stints at Southampton and Spurs, it may not be such a major problem as far as he is concerned.
RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann is, perhaps surprisingly, next in the betting and a move to City would represent a step up for the 32-year-old – even without any European football.
Nagelsmann is unlikely to be interested in a move mid-season given Leipzig are pushing for the Bundesliga title, while his relative lack of experience could count against him.
Next up comes another out-of-work contender in former AC Milan and Juventus boss Massimiliano ‘Max’ Allegri.
The Italian was mentioned as a potential replacement for Unai Emery at Arsenal before they opted for Mikel Arteta and has been linked with a host of positions since leaving Juve.
Allegri’s philosophy is totally different to Guardiola’s and, if City were to appoint him, it would mark a real change in direction, so this one looks unlikely.
Erik ten Hag
Ajax boss Erik ten Hag does have a similar approach to the game to Guardiola and has enjoyed great success with the Dutch giants – particularly last season as he guided them to the last four of the Champions League against all odds.
Again, experience could count against Ten Hag as he has only had one coaching position outside of his native the Netherlands, a two-year stint in charge of Bayern Munich II.
Arteta looked to be the man being primed to replace Guardiola as he worked as the number two at City before being allowed to join Arsenal for his first managerial role earlier this term.
There is a real chance the Etihad hierarchy will want to talk to the Spaniard if they do fund themselves in need of a new boss, but whether he’d be interested in leaving the Gunners, a club he represented 150 times as a player, so soon after his appointment is another question entirely.
Gareth Freeman is an experienced journalist who can offer in-depth knowledge on a host of sports, especially football, tennis, snooker and basketball.