When music legend Paul Weller disbanded The Jam at the height of their popularity, fans were shocked. Pep Guardiola dropped an equivalent bombshell on the Barcelona faithful last season by stepping down at the peak of his powers.
After becoming the Blaugrana's most successful manager of all-time with 14 trophies in four seasons, the Catalonian broke up the proverbial band and moved to New York to ponder his future. Yes, his resignation came after a campaign in which he failed to win the league and secure European success, but few expected him to step away from the game after such recent triumphs.
As Guardiola's American sabbatical continues, a pressing question looms over world football: Where will he end up next?
The 41-year-old would not be short of employment options, and many folks have been throwing their hats into the ring on his behalf. This week, his former Brescia teammate, Luca Toni, suggested he would be best suited to Bayern Munich, adding that he would "give the German mentality some flair".
Meanwhile, in Italy last week, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi had asked vice president Adriano Galliani to set up talks with Pep on an upcoming trip to New York. With Massimiliano Allegri's days looking numbered, many believe the Spaniard could be the one to steer the Rossoneri's ship back in the direction of success.
While Guardiola would have to put in plenty of groundwork to bring Milan back to their glory days, if he was looking for a truly ambitious project, where better to start than the MLS? A team like the New York Red Bulls would bend over backwards to secure his services, they have a history of foreign managers, they have three of the league's best-paid players on their roster and Pep would not have to move away from his adopted home.
Of course, there has also been media speculation from the kind of clubs that get associated with every valuable free agent––PSG and Manchester City––but it appears unlikely that a man who took a break from his career at such a successful time would be motivated by a big-money move.
The loudest whispers, it seems, are coming from the Premier League. Could Pep take the helm at Arsenal, a club that prides itself on pretty football and developing young talent, just like Barcelona? Rafa Marquez seems to think it's a good fit.
Could he take the job at Old Trafford when Sir Alex Ferguson steps down? Jose Mourinho has been widely tipped to pick up the mantle, but since he recently revealed he would like to face Fergie as a Premier League adversary once again, the door would appear to be open to a man of Señor Guardiola's calibre.
But perhaps his most likely destination is Chelsea. It's reported that owner Roman Abramovich pursued the Spaniard from the moment Andre Villas-Boas was given his marching orders, even going as far as to let him name his salary. Pep has admitted that he has taken calls from Chelsea, but Roberto Di Matteo currently has the Blues sat the top of the league, and the former Barca man is in no hurry to cut his time in New York short.
With a lengthy list of honors acquired in just four years of management, Guardiola certainly has nothing to prove in his next role. But wherever he goes, success is sure to follow.
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