“He will bring splendor not only to the club, but to German soccer as a whole and the Bundesliga,” beamed Bayern Munich executive president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as he lifted the lid on what has been one of the best-kept secrets in the game on Wednesday. Pep Guardiola, who led Barcelona to 14 titles in 19 contested competitions during four years at Camp Nou before stepping down last season, is to take over from Jupp Heynckes as coach of the German giant this summer.
Guardiola has been enjoying a sabbatical in New York since abruptly leaving Barça and had recently hinted he would ply his trade in the Premier League next season. He has many suitors there, notably Chelsea, which has long pursued the Catalan coach, and Manchester City, where former Barcelona sporting director Txiki Begiristain now works. AC Milan had also been in the hunt for the services of the game’s most sought-after coach and it was through the Rossoneri that Bayern’s trump card came to light. Milan stated on Monday that it was unable to open talks with Guardiola as he had reached a deal with Bayern.
Guardiola’s task at the Allianz Arena is to restore Bayern to the pinnacle of German and European soccer while producing the mesmerizing play he fostered at Camp Nou. The coach certainly has the sporting elements to reproduce Barça’s alchemy with Bayern’s pool of superstars. And he has been handed a contract until 2016 to build his legacy. Bayern has not lifted Europe’s highest prize since 2001 and has been beaten to the Bundesliga title by Dortmund in the past two terms, although it seems likely that Heynckes will leave a German champion for Guardiola to tinker with.