BusinessDay

With eyes on Champions League, Pep Guardiola hangs on with Manchester City

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has extended his stay with the club for two years that will keep him until 2023.

The Spanish boss had just seven months left on his existing £20m-a-year deal with speculation mounting he could leave the Etihad after five years at the club – his longest job in management, but has moved to end the uncertainty over his future by agreeing an extension to his deal.

City were desperate to keep hold of the former Barcelona manager – but were also prepared to give him time to come to a decision.

That left a question mark hanging over this season that neither the club nor Guardiola wanted to impact their bid to reclaim the Premier League title this term.

The first task for Guardiola will be to overcome the challenge of dethroning champions Liverpool.

Guardiola is also desperate to win the Champions League for the first time since leaving Barcelona.

The City boss said: “Ever since I arrived at Manchester City I have been made to feel so welcome in the club and in the city itself- from the players, the staff, the supporters, the people of Manchester and the chairman and owner.

“Since then we have achieved a great deal together, scored goals, won games and trophies, and we are all very proud of that success.

“Having that kind of support is the best thing any manager can have. “I have everything I could possibly want to do my job well and I am humbled by the confidence shown in me to continue for two more years after this season.

“The challenge for us is to continue improving and evolving, and I am very excited about helping Manchester City do that.”

The 49-year-old has already been at City for longer than any other club he has managed, having arrived from Bayern Munich in 2016, and has repeatedly claimed he is happy to be working in Manchester with his present set of players. Having agreed a short extension to his initial contract his deal was due to expire at the end of this season, but together with the club he used the international break to negotiate a new agreement.

In his five years at City the club have won two Premier League titles, three League Cups and an FA Cup, setting several scoring and point-accumulating records on the way, though it is hardly a secret that Champions League success remains an unachieved ambition. Guardiola won that twice with Barcelona, which was one reason City’s owners began to pursue him, but he could not reach a final in three years in Germany and he has so far failed to negotiate the knockout stages with the English club.

Man City have never won the Champions League in their history and have been knocked out in the quarter-finals the last three seasons.

Guardiola staying could boost Man City’s chances of bringing Lionel Messi to the Etihad after their failed summer bid.

What an extra two years is almost certain to do is renew City’s interest in reuniting Guardiola with Lionel Messi, who returned from international duty with Argentina this week and complained publicly that he was sick of being blamed for all Barçelona’s problems. Messi came close to leaving Barcelona in summer, and City were prominent among potential destinations, and though he agreed to stay one final season few expect him to remain any longer.

At 33, Messi is reaching the end of his glittering playing career, though he might reasonably expect to have another two or three years at the top. That timing would fit in perfectly with Guardiola’s newly agreed deal, especially as the player is out of contract at the end of the season.

City’s chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, said: “Pep Guardiola’s passion and intelligent approach are now woven into the very fabric of the football we play and our culture as a club. The manager’s impact has been central to our success and that is why I am delighted that he shares our view that there is so much more to be achieved both on and off the field.

“Pep’s contract extension is the natural next step in a journey which has evolved over many years, and it is a product of the mutual trust that exists between him and the entire club.

I am sure all City fans share my delight in this new agreement and in anticipating the exciting opportunities that, with continued hard work, are there to be taken.”

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