LONDON • On Premier League transfer deadline day, the biggest signing was that of a manager.
After years of wooing Pep Guardiola and months of increasing speculation, Manchester City have finally got their man.
The club confirmed yesterday that the Spaniard has inked a three-year deal, and the outgoing Bayern Munich manager will replace incumbent Manuel Pellegrini at the end of the season.
Guardiola, who won 14 titles with Barcelona in his four-year coaching spell, rejected City overtures to head to Germany. But he turned down a contract extension at Bayern late last year after winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles, and signalled his intention to manage in England's top flight.
City's former Barcelona executives Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano - tasked in 2012 with bringing the Catalan model for success to the Etihad Stadium - ensured that they would reunite with Guardiola in Manchester.
"Manchester City can confirm that in recent weeks it has commenced and finalised contractual negotiations with Pep Guardiola to become MCFC head coach for the 2016-17 EPL season onwards," the club said in a statement.
Quite clearly he's been watching a lot of City, he'll have a plan for next season, he knows what he wants, he knows what's needed and it's just a matter of starting work on it.''
GUILLEM BALAGUE, author of Guardiola's biography, on how City's new manager already has a plan for his new team.
"These negotiations were a re-commencement of discussions that were curtailed in 2012.
"Out of respect for Manuel Pellegrini and the players, the club wishes to make its decision public to remove the unnecessary burden of speculation."
Pellegrini ended his press conference to preview today's league game against Sunderland by saying: "Before I finish, I want to tell you I have talked with the club and I will finish my contract on the original date.
"I signed for one year more (in August he extended his contract until the summer of 2017), but with the clause that the club or me can choose not to use that now.
"So I finish here on June 30, so there is no speculation.
"The club are not doing anything behind me, I knew this a month ago, but I don't think it's good to have rumour or speculation about these things, so I prefer to finish today, which is why I have told the players and I have told the press. I also spoke to the club two weeks ago and said that I would do it."
The 62-year-old signed for City in 2013 and has also won the Premier League and the League Cup since.
During his tenure, the club have won 64 of the 99 games played. The only manager to have won more in his opening 99 Premier League games is Jose Mourinho (73).
Guardiola's record is stellar too. He has lost only 19 of his 239 league games as a manager - winning 187 and drawing 33.
The Spaniard is on course to end his three-year tenure in Bayern with the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles.
City, who sit second in the Premier League behind Leicester City, remain in the running for four trophies this season.
Bayern and City could yet meet in the latter stages of the Champions League, with the trophy in Europe's elite club competition representing the height of City's ambitions.
Spanish football expert and author of Guardiola's biography, Guillem Balague, has revealed that the 44-year-old has been paying special attention to City.
"Quite clearly he's been watching a lot of City, he'll have a plan for next season, he knows what he wants, he knows what's needed and it's just a matter of starting work on it," Balague told Sky Sports.
"Why announce it now? Because tomorrow is from the time when Manchester City will start working on next season, on signing new players and the new squad, and that is a job that the new manager has to start doing."
At press time, with hours to go before the transfer window in England shut yesterday, City did not announce any new signings.
Newcastle - the biggest Premier League spenders in this window before yesterday, having spent £29 million (S$59.1 million) on midfielders Henri Saivet (Bordeaux), Jonjo Shelvey (Swansea City), and Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur) - were again active.
The Magpies yesterday signed striker Seydou Doumbia from Serie A club Roma on loan.
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