Guardiola (and Neymar?) to Man City
Perhaps the biggest shocker of this January transfer window was the announcement on deadline day that Pep Guardiola, almost unanimously regarded as the best coach in the world, will join Manchester City next season.
We already knew that the former Barcelona player and manager and current Bayern manager would leave the German giants in favor of a new experience in the most challenging and unpredictable league in the world, with former Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti to replace him.
The announcement from Manchester City came after Manuel Pellegrini announced in a press conference that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season. The statement announced that Guardiola will be signed to a three year deal, securing the legendary manager to a future with City.
With this long-term future in mind, Guardiola may elect to change the squad – his name alone will attract world class players from around the world to play for him. Links to the club already include Paul Pogba and the great Lionel Messi, the Barcelona forward that Guardiola turned into a star. Seeing the two combine in the Premier League be a once in a lifetime pairing, but considering Messi has repeatedly said he wants to stay at Barcelona and only play for his old Argentinian club Newell’s Old Boys after he leaves, such an occurrence in unlikely.
One player that could join Pep Guardiola at Manchester City is FC Barcelona’s young winger, Neymar. He currently has a release clause: £140 million, and it has been rumored that Manchester City will give Pep Guardiola a future spending budget £150 million. Pep Guardiola could trigger Neymar’s clause, and he may do so considering all of what is happening with Neymar at Barcelona.
While Neymar has reaffirmed his loyalty to Barcelona (“I’m very happy where I am right now, at Barcelona”), he also said, when asked whether he would like to play under any particular manager, “Guardiola is a guy who I really admire and who I would love to work with.” He is clearly interested in playing under the best coach in the world, and would be a great addition to Manchester City’s already incredibly strong attacking force. Neymar is also already comfortable with Guardiola’s possession, fast-paced passing style that Neymar has learned at Barcelona.
And although numerous reports have said that Barcelona and Neymar have agreed to a contract extension, no such deal has officially been announced. It would certainly be a shock if Neymar decided to go to Manchester City this summer, but it is looking more likely with the recent news out of England.
Both Neymar and Pep Guardiola were formerly linked to joining Manchester United. Some in England have said that Pep Guardiola took the “easier” job in joining Manchester City, and will never be able to say he brought United out of ruin. He did not take up the challenge, and it could reflect on his record if he does not achieve a high level of success at City.
Pellegrini has set the bar high for Guardiola to surpass – he has had a win percentage 64.7% in 99 games in charge of City, higher than anyone except Mourinho in the Premier League through their first 100 games. Pellegrini’s success has made him the target of a struggling Valencia CF under English manager Gary Neville, and other top clubs in Spain and England have shown interest in the coach as well. Guardiola could only surpass Pellegrini’s feats by bringing home a Champions League trophy for Man City, ending the longstanding English drought in the competition.