Guardiola departure speculation gains momentum; Ancelotti next?

Munich, Dec. 18, (GNA/dpa) – Bayern Munich’s last Bundesliga match of the year in Hanover has become a footnote as speculation of Pep Guardiola leaving after the season is gaining momentum by the day and Carlo Ancelotti already named a potential successor at the German top club.

That is unless the departure of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea makes the Italian a target of the English champions for a second term.

So far Guardiola’s future is pure speculation, and he and Munich have said that they will make an announcement next week after a meeting set to take place the day after Saturday’s match in Hanover.

Munich’s players and officials would like to continue with the Spaniard beyond the June 30, 2016 expiration of his three-year contract but winger Arjen Robben also admitted to local BR radio that “neither decision would be a surprise for me.”

Spain’s Marca paper said that Guardiola has already informed Munich of his decision to leave and together with Cadena Cope radio named Ancelotti as successor.

Germany’s Kicker sports magazine also said Thursday that “facts clearly speak against an extension” of Guardiola’s contract.

As much as Bayern would like to keep Guardiola, they are aware that he will not stay forever and that the temptation of going to England could be huge, with big-spending Manchester City always named and crosstown rivals United possibly also in the frame.

“Coaches come and they go again at some stage,” chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said recently. “There is no person in this world who can’t be replaced.”

Kicker recalled that Guardiola once named his fourth and final season at Barcelona a mistake, that the club and not him has the final saying on transfers, and that, a new dispute with team doctors is brewing in the form of another injury concerning French winger Franck Ribery.

Former team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt quit last year after more than three decades at the club over a dispute with Guardiola.

Munich’s successful attempt to get the much sought Guardiola in the first place in 2013 has also enhanced their reputation and made the five-time European champions even more attractive for top coaches.

Ancelotti would fit the bill as well, as he has won three Champions League trophies with AC Milan (2003 and 2007) and Real Madrid (2014), beating Munich in the semis that year.

The Bundesliga is the only big league missing on the CV of the 56-year-old, who apart from Milan, Chelsea and Real has also been in charge of Paris Saint-Germain and won trophies everywhere.

Germany coach Joachim Loew has also been mentioned but has a contract until the 2018 World Cup where he wants to defend the 2014 title. Juergen Klopp was also named in the past but is now at Liverpool.

But for now Guardiola is still in charge, and history could possibly even repeat itself for Munich.

The club announced on January 16, 2013, that Guardiola would take over from Jupp Heynckes for the following season, but that didn’t stop Heynckes and the players from winning a first title treble for the club a few months later.

Munich will have the same in mind now. Apart from an unprecedented fourth straight Bundesliga crown they want a first Champions League crown under Guardiola after semi-final misses the past two seasons, and another German cup title.

“I can feel it. We have a chance to achieve it all this year (season),” Rummenigge was quoted as saying at the internal Christmas party.

The statement was not supposed to go public but Robben struck a similar note.

“We are now in our third year under Guardiola. We have taken a step (forward) each year under him, this season as well. In the end it will be about the games in April and May. You have to perform at your best then,” Robben said. GNA