Football: Ancelotti signs Bayern deal, ignites race for Guardiola

Guardiola has yet to announce which team he will be managing next season, with Manchester City the favourites to land his signature.
Guardiola has yet to announce which team he will be managing next season, with Manchester City the favourites to land his signature. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season and will be replaced by Carlo Ancelotti.

The news follows months of speculation about Guardiola's future and his reluctance to sign a new contract with the Bundesliga champions despite 21/2 successful years in Bavaria.

Bayern's chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "We are grateful to Pep Guardiola for everything he has given our club since 2013.

"I am convinced that Pep and our team will now work even more intensively towards achieving our major sporting goals - especially as it is now confirmed that Pep is to leave FC Bayern."

Guardiola, 44, has won back-to-back league titles with Bayern and also lifted the German Cup last year.

The German giants were so successful that ex-Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann has said it would be better for the Bundesliga if Guardiola goes, as it would make the league "more exciting".

However, the Spaniard has failed to add to the two Champions League trophies he won while in charge of Barcelona, having reached the semi-finals for the past two seasons.

There have also been disagreements with the Bayern medical staff, which led to a parting of the ways with the legendary team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt last season and three other members of the staff.

German magazine Kicker reported last week that Guardiola has been unimpressed with the medical team this season as well, and especially with regard to recent injuries to Franck Ribery and Philipp Lahm.

Manchester City are thought to be in pole position to sign Guardiola for the 2015-16 season.

However, they are likely to face competition from clubs such as Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain as well as Manchester United if the Red Devils decide to terminate Louis van Gaal's contract a year early.

In an interview on Friday, Manuel Pellegrini, the City manager, said he expected Guardiola to come to the Premier League - perhaps replacing him at the Etihad Stadium.

"Pep Guardiola will work here," the Chilean manager said. "I don't know if it will be next season here at City, or even at another club, but I am sure that one day he will come to the Premier League."

Guardiola flew home to Spain yesterday and has given no indication of his plans.

Ancelotti, 56, who has won the Champions League three times as a manager - twice with AC Milan and once with Real Madrid - has signed a three-year contract at Bayern, committing him to the German giants until 2019.

"Carlo Ancelotti has enjoyed success everywhere as a coach and has won the Champions League three times," said Rummenigge.

"Carlo is a calm, balanced expert, who knows how to deal with stars and favours a multi-faceted style of play - we were looking for this, and we have found it. We are looking forward to working with him."

Ancelotti said: "I am very honoured that I will be coach of the great club FC Bayern from next season."

THE GUARDAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2015, with the headline 'Ancelotti signs Bayern deal, ignites race for Guardiola'. Print Edition | Subscribe