Guardiola challenges Liverpool and Chelsea: 'seduce me'
Outgoing Barcelona boss says he will be ready to return to management later this summer
IT IS the news that fans of Liverpool and Chelsea have been waiting for. Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola has announced that he will be open to offers from other clubs this summer, in a move that is likely to prompt a hectic scramble among some of Europe's biggest clubs for his signature.
The 41-year-old has been in charge of Barcelona for four years and turned them into the most feared and admired team in world football, playing a devastating yet attractive brand of possession football. His final game in charge sees Barca take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final tonight, if they win it will be the Catalans' fourth trophy of the season and the 14th of Guardiola's relatively brief reign at the Camp Nou.
Unsurprisingly, given his success, Guardiola is a wanted man and he has been linked with both Liverpool and Chelsea. But until now the rumours appeared baseless, as the former midfielder had made it clear he wanted to take a sabbatical away from football and spend a year relaxing.
But now he appears to have changed his mind, and says he will be ready to return to management in just four weeks time, meaning that he could be installed at a new club before the start of next season. However, he stated that he would need to be convinced by his new employers that it was a worthwhile job.
"I will receive all calls with pleasure, but for the next months I have to recharge my batteries and my mind," he announced, according to the BBC. "I will be ready [to return] if one club wants me and seduces me."
The news was like a bomb going off on Twitter, as fans fell over themselves to spread the word that the most wanted man in football was available.
The announcement could be bad news for Chelsea caretaker manager Roberto di Matteo, suggests the Daily Mail. Although he guided the Blues to FA Cup and Champions League double, beating Barcelona on the way, and is the choice of players and many fans to take the job at Stamford Bridge, Roman Abramovich has long coveted Guardiola and would be prepared to clear the decks to bring him aboard.
And although the Catalan has also been linked with Liverpool, the news of his availability emerged days after a new structure at Anfield was mooted, with a manager working underneath a sporting director, possibly in the form of another former Barca coach Louis van Gaal. It seems unlikely that such a set up would work for Guardiola, who has steered the biggest ship in world football on his own for four years.
Indeed, The Guardian reports that another Spaniard, Roberto Martinez, is set for talks with Liverpool's American owners in Miami.