Decision day for Pep Guardiola: will it be Barcelona or Chelsea?
Or will the coach who's made Barca the dominant team in Europe take a well-earned sabbatical?
BARCELONA coach Pep Guardiola will today inform his bosses whether he wishes to remain at the club next season. According to The Guardian, the 41-year-old coach, who has steered Barcelona to 13 trophies in four years, discussed his future during a three-hour meeting on Wednesday. Present were Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, and the club's sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, both of whom fear Guardiola will leave his post at the end of the season.
Under the stewardship of Guardiola, Barcelona have become the dominant side in Europe, winning three league titles, two Champions League crowns and a Copa del Rey. In addition Barcelona have also won three Spanish Super Cups, two European Super Cups and two World Club Championships.
Despite their exit from the semi-final of the Champions League on Tuesday against Chelsea, Barcelona could still win the Copa del Rey.
The Guardian claims that Guardiola is "likely to take a break" from coaching to recuperate from the pressure of leading Barcelona, but other newspapers speculate that a move to England might be imminent.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Guardiola has already decided to leave but Barcelona officials "are still hoping that he can be persuaded to change his mind" before today's lunchtime press conference.
The paper goes on to say that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is desperate to bring Guardiola to Stamford Bridge and says there has been a "direct dialogue" between the two men. The Russian billionaire has apparently promised Guardiola he can rebuild the ageing Chelsea side without fear of being sacked, as Andre Villas-Boas was earlier in the year after just six months in charge at the Bridge.
The Sun also predicts that Guardiola will leave Barcelona today and says he is still mulling over a four-year offer from Chelsea, said to be "worth £40 million after tax".
If the Independent is to be believed, Guardiola will take three weeks to reach a decision about his future. The paper says that he could well follow the example of his predecessor at Barcelona, Frank Rijkaard, who went on a sabbatical after leaving the Camp Nou in 2008. On one matter, however, the papers are all agreed - Guardiola will not become the next manager of England.
As to who might replace Guardiola at Barcelona, the Guardian claims that three men are in the picture to fill the post: Marcelo Bielsa, the Athletic Bilbao coach, France manager Laurent Blanc, who leaves the role after the 2012 European Championships, and Ernesto Valverde, the former Barcelona player who recently parted company with Olympiakos after leading the Greek side to a third title in four years.