Football: Guardiola mulls Bayern future

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola during their match against SV Darmstadt.
Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola during their match against SV Darmstadt. PHOTO: REUTERS

(AFP) - England's top clubs will pay particular attention to a certain Spaniard in Bavaria this festive season with Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola due to announce his future plans before Christmas.

Guardiola, 44, is halfway through the third and final year of his current contract and says he will announce his decision to stay or go before Dec 25.

Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is ready to make Guardiola a generous offer to extend his stay by laying out "many positive reasons to stay at Bayern".

Club captain Philipp Lahm has told the coach the squad want him to stay.

"The team's position is clear, we enjoy working with our coach and we really, really want to keep doing so," said Lahm.

Spain international Xabi Alonso is reported to want to extend his contract, which also expires in June, should Guardiola stay.

And even Bayern fans got in on the act.

On Guardiola's pre-Christmas visit to a Bayern fan club earlier this month, one supporter, dressed as Father Christmas, cheekily handed him an elaborate scroll.

It was a spoof contract to remain Bayern's coach for the rest of his life.

All Guardiola had to do was sign his name and fill in "whatever amount of money he thought was appropriate".

Although he laughed it off, Guardiola has become increasingly annoyed by the constant rounds of rumours, which has even seen him linked to the England national team.

Various sources claim Guardiola has already signed a deal to join Manchester City, at the start of 2015, to take charge of the Citizens for the 2016/17 season.

City's rivals Manchester United have entered the fray as possible future employers to replace Louis van Gaal following poor results and their Champions League exit.

And with Chelsea close to the Premier League relegation places, Guardiola's name has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.

Yet Guardiola has given no indication of where his future lies.

His reputation for success, having won 19 titles as either coach of Barcelona or Bayern, leaves Europe's top clubs clamouring for his services.

Regardless of whether he stays or goes at the end of the season, Guardiola wants to get his hands on the Champions League trophy again in the May 28 final.

Both of his two previous attempts to win the European crown with Bayern ended at the semi-final stage when found wanting, first by Real Madrid, then Barcelona.

The lack of pace out wide, which Barcelona cruelly exposed in their 3-0 thumping of Bayern in May at the Nou Camp was quickly remedied as wingers Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman were signed up for this season.

Guardiola's tenure in Bayern will be judged on whether or not he falls again at the semi-final hurdle.

But as Lahm said: "If Guardiola leaves one day, for sure another excellent coach will come along, but first we have to see what happens."