Pep Guardiola has admitted a desire to add Manchester United to his managerial CV, according to revelations in a newly released book chronicling his first season as coach at Bayern Munich.
Guardiola, the former Barcelona coach recruited by Bayern before Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement as United manager at the end of the 2012-13 season, is under contract at the Allianz Arena until the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
Despite his commitment to the Bundesliga champions, the 43‑year-old remains one of the hottest properties in world football who, according to Spanish journalist Martí Perarnau in his book, Pep Confidential: The Inside Story of Pep Guardiola's First Season at Bayern Munich, was a target for Chelsea, Manchester City and AC Milan before December 2012 when he agreed to accept the challenge of succeeding Jupp Heynckes at Bayern at the end of that season.
How he devises plans "I sit down and watch videos. I take notes. That's when that inspiration comes - the moment that makes sense of my profession. The instant I know, for sure, that I've got it. I know how to win. It's the moment that my job becomes truly meaningful"
Louis van Gaal, the man who appointed Guardiola as Barcelona captain during his time as coach at the Nou Camp, is only three months into a three-year contract to manage United which ends in the summer of 2017.
That makes the prospect of Guardiola moving elsewhere at the end of his three-year deal with Bayern in 2016 more likely than a switch to Old Trafford.
But having given Perarnau open-door access and full cooperation during the year-long project of writing the diary of his first campaign at Bayern, Guardiola's admission of being seduced by the prospect of managing United is unlikely to go unnoticed by senior figures at Old Trafford, who were frustrated by his unavailability in the wake of David Moyes's sacking as manager last April.
"From the start, Pep was well disposed to the overtures from the Bavarian club," Perarnau writes. "A year before, in late July 2011, not long after a resounding 3-1 victory in the Champions League final against Manchester United at Wembley, Barcelona competed in the Audi Cup in Munich.
"Pep liked the set-up at Säbener Strasse [Bayern's training complex], despite the fact that it was smaller than Barça's training ground and had fewer technical facilities.
"The Catalan was impressed and told Manel Estiarte [his personal assistant] privately: "I like this place. I could see myself coaching here one day. Pep had said something very similar a few months before, at Manchester United.
"The day after beating Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final, Guardiola and Estiarte travelled to Manchester to watch their next opponent in action.
"It was May 4, 2011, and the pair sat together in the stands of Old Trafford watching Sir Alex Ferguson's team beat Schalke 4-1. Once again Pep had turned to his friend and said: ‘I like this atmosphere. I could see myself coaching here one day.'
"Guardiola has always felt a deep admiration, almost veneration, for the legendary teams and players of Europe."
Guardiola is understood to have met Ferguson twice in New York during the first half of the 2012-13 campaign, when the former Barcelona coach was midway through his sabbatical in the city following his resignation at the Nou Camp at the end of the previous campaign.
It is not known whether Ferguson disclosed his plans to retire at the end of that season to Guardiola, or if the Scot offered Guardiola the opportunity to succeed him, but any hope of United luring the former Spain midfielder to Old Trafford was scuppered when Bayern confirmed, in January 2013, that he would become their manager from the start of the next season.
Perarnau goes on to claim in his book that Bayern fended off heavyweight rivals to secure Guardiola as coach following his exit from Barcelona.
"During his sabbatical year in New York, the job offers poured in," Perarnau wrote. "His ex-colleague, Txiki Begiristain, the director of football at Manchester City, was very insistent. "He also met up in Paris with Roman Abramovich, who was prepared to do anything to lure Pep to Chelsea.
"Bayern, too, were anxious to register an early interest and a delegation from Munich attended Pep's last game with Barça, the final of the Copa del Rey against Athletic Bilbao in Madrid on May 25 2012.
"In the event, the Bayern delegation did not get a chance speak to Guardiola, but they made their interest clear during a meeting with his agent. Within a few months, Pep had chosen Bayern."
When asked about the prospect of managing United last season following the sacking of Moyes in April, Guardiola pledged his loyalty to Bayern before admitting his future plans were yet to be resolved.
"I am here. I am at Bayern and I want to stay for two more years here," he said in April. "We won the Bundesliga but I feel our team can improve. I feel Bayern now is my team, but I feel we can play better, we can improve and I think I still have work to do.
"I am comfortable here. I work with very kind people here and I want to stay, but after that, I don't know what will happen."
OP gossip/chisme: that's a bit interesting, re: the Manchester United job, actually. According to other outlets, Pep Guardiola said that Germany was the future even before he went to live in NYC with his family (and after leaving Barcelona). He told and sundry that Germany was the future of football, he liked the stadia, the set up, etc. Rebuffed all English offers stone cold (Chelsea owner had a helicopter waiting on him to fly him to the yacht to make a deal). Jose Mourinho was after the Manchester United job, according to sources (Esquire UK, really) and he was crestfallen when he didn't get it, hence his second stint at Chelsea. According to rumour, when Guardiola accepted the Bayern Munich job, Mourinho dismissed with a scornful, "He decides to play in a league that I have never been." Ah Mou, it's not about you.