PEP GUARDIOLA has confirmed he will return to Barcelona “sooner or later” in a subtle hint that he could manage the Spanish giants again in the future.
The Catalan coach’s future has been the subject of speculation of late.
The 48-year-old was linked with the Juventus job, before Maurizio Sarri swapped Chelsea for the Allianz Stadium.
Guardiola had also been tipped to take a sabbatical after his contract at Manchester City expires in 2021 or even this time next year if he leads the Premier League champions to a maiden Champions League success in 2019-20.
But he hit out at those suggestions, insisting: “I am young and I have desire. The news comes out and many things are not true. If they do not kick me out, I’ll stay there.”
Guardiola has never spent more than four years at any club yet will exceed that with City, where his contract runs until the summer of 2021. But the club are keen to extend his deal given his success at the Etihad.
City have won back-to-back league titles, the first with a record 100 points and the second with 98, having also won an unprecedented domestic treble last year.
But former holding midfielder Guardiola, whose managerial career began with an ultra-successful stint at Barcelona that yielded 14 trophies in four seasons, while discussing his future has confirmed he one day wishes to return to the Blaugrana, where he was a first-team player for 11 years after coming through the club’s academy.
However, Guardiola dismissed any suggestion he would ever become the club’s president.
“I will return to Barcelona sooner or later. But as president, forget about it,” he said at a presentation for the Cruyff Foundation in Els Hostalets de Pierola.
“To be president, you have to know [what you’re doing] and be prepared; to have knowledge that I don’t have.
“I’m trying to be a good coach; that hasn’t gone too badly in this decade. I will return to Barcelona to live, sooner or later.”
Guardiola’s focus very much remains on Man City as he looks to lead the club to much-craved success in Europe and a third straight title, which only four other clubs have ever managed in the history of England’s top-flight in Huddersfield, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United, who have achieved the feat twice.
And City are rumoured to be closing in on their first signing of the summer as they look to bolster their squad to go again next year, with Atletico Madrid’s Rodri seemingly headed to England.
City are expected to trigger the Spaniard’s £62.5million release clause for Rodri to become a long-term successor to 34-year-old Fernandinho in the middle.
Asked about signing the player, Guardiola told reporters: “I have no idea. We will see. He’s a great player.”
Guardiola is also thought to be keen on a new centre-back to replace departed former captain Vincent Kompany with Leicester City’s £80m-rated Harry Maguire a target.
Talks for Juventus right-back Joao Cancelo are also thought to be advanced with the view to a deal in the region of £44m, with chiefs from the two clubs having reportedly held talks in London this week.