Manchester City have named Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola as their new manager from July, hoping the Spaniard can lead the Premier League club to the European glory he brought to Barcelona.
Manuel Pellegrini will leave the job on June 30 to make way for Guardiola, who has signed a three-year contract with City, the club said in a statement on Monday.
The move ends months of speculation about the future of the charismatic Guardiola and pairs one of the world’s most respected coaches with one of its richest clubs.
Guardiola, who turned 45 on Jan. 18, won 14 titles with Barcelona in a four-year coaching spell, including the Champions League in 2009 and 2011.
At Bayern, he won back-to-back league titles and leaves with the side on course for a third. But his record is dimmed by the Bavarian club’s failure to bring home Europe’s top club prize.
Bayern twice stumbled in the Champions League’s semi-final stage, losing heavily to Real Madrid in 2014 before being edged out by Juventus the following year.
It has long been an open secret that Manchester City had their eyes on Guardiola to fire their own bid for European honours.
City have been frustrated in that quest since they emerged as an English powerhouse following their takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, a move that made them flush with Gulf Arab cash to lavish on star players.
They were Premier League Champions in 2012 and 2014 and won the F.A. Cup in 2011. But despite qualifying for the past five Champions League competitions, they failed to reach the quarter-finals in the first four of those. They face Dynamo Kiev in the last 16 this year, with the first leg on Feb 24.
The news broke when Pellegrini, the Chilean who took over at City in 2013, told a news conference on Monday he would finish at the club on June 30.
“There’s been lots of speculation, nothing done behind me but I don’t think it is good to have the speculation so that is why I told the press and the players,” he said, almost as an afterthought at the end of the session.
City then issued a statement saying the club wanted to remove “the unnecessary burden of speculation”.
“Manuel…is entirely focused on achieving his targets for the season ahead and retains the respect and commitment of all involved with the leadership of the Club,” City said.
They are currently second in the Premier League, three points behind surprise leaders Leicester City.
As a player, the Catalonia-born Guardiola spent most of his career as a midfielder with Barcelona, winning the old European Cup in 1992.
He went on the manage the club for four years before taking a sabbatical and then taking the reins at Bayern in 2013. He had turned down a new contract with Bayern Munich last year and said he would quit at the end of the season.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said he was one of the best managers in the world, “no doubt about this”.
“He had two big, big clubs where he has worked at and now he will do his job at Manchester City,” Klopp told reporters.
“Pep won everything in Spain, nearly everything in Germany, so I think he wants to win everything in England, that is clear.”