Pep Guardiola Leaving Barcelona: 5 Reasons He'd Be Better off Staying
He intends on taking a sabbatical after the end of the season, and then he'll return to the beautiful game as the manager of a new team.
It's not news that will make any Barcelona fan smile. In four short years, Pep Guardiola became the most successful Barcelona manager in history, winning a record 13 trophies (soon to be 14) in the process.
Most of all, he did it the Barca way: playing the beautiful football that has earned them respect and admiration from managers, players and pundits from around the world.
Will Barcelona ever have a manager as great as Guardiola? Will Barcelona's incredible dominance over the last four years end with Guardiola's departure from the Catalans?
These are just a few of the questions that Barca's management and fans will have to face up to at the end of the season when one of the club's greatest icons and heroes walks away.
And even though it won't affect Guardiola's decision, we can't shake the feeling that he's making a big mistake. Here are five reasons why Guardiola should have decided to stay with Barcelona for at least another season, if not longer.
He Won't Find Better Players in the World
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Guardiola's tiki-taka football system is now famous around the world as "the way football should be played." It's become the reference point for what "beautiful football" really is.
Whether you agree or disagree with that is irrelevant right now. What's important to note here is that, as beautiful as tiki-taka football may be, it can't be played by just anyone.
Tiki-taka requires the best players in the world to be successful.
It requires guys like Xavi, Iniesta and Lionel Messi. Guys who possess the world-class ability to make the perfect passes to unlock a defense, but also guys who have the patience to keep passing until the right opportunities arise.
It's highly unlikely that Guardiola will find these players at his new club.
Bayern Munich comes close, but an individual comparison of Barcelona and Bayern Munich's squads would likely show that Barcelona possesses a significant edge in player quality.
Not having the world's best players will make tiki-taka football much harder for Guardiola to implement.
He Won't Find a Better Youth System in the World
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Tiki-taka football also requires players with the right mentality. Players who have been trained for years in the art of tiki-taka football, and know what is required of them when they step onto the pitch.
At his new club, Guardiola won't have the luxury of one of the world's best youth systems to rely on either.
Throughout Guardiola's reign at Barcelona, the Catalans' youth system has churned out almost two or three youth products that have incorporated themselves excellently into the squad, with Guardiola having to do little if any work to get them up to speed on the style and tactics of his team.
That won't happen at any of the clubs Guardiola takes over.
Bayern Munich's youth system is probably the only youth system in the world that comes close to rivaling Barcelona's (Arsenal is a distant third).
With Guardiola highly unlikely to continue his managerial career with Bayern, this will be a luxury that Guardiola will truly miss with time.
Barcelona Managers Don't Transition Well
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After Pep Guardiola, Barcelona's second and third most successful managers ever are Johan Cruyff and Frank Rijkaard.
How have the rest of their managerial careers panned out?
After falling out with the Barcelona chairman at the time, Cruyff departed Barcelona and vowed to never coach again. Since then, he's flirted on-and-off with returning to Ajax in some capacity, but pulled out because of differences in opinion.
He also manages the Catalan national team, a team unaffiliated with FIFA which plays a friendly against another national team, FIFA-recognized or not, once or twice every year. The team is made up mostly of Barcelona and Espanyol players.
As for Frank Rijkaard, his coaching career has hit rock bottom since leaving Barcelona. His first job after leaving Barca was with Turkish giants Galatasaray.
In his first season, Rijkaard was only able to guide the Istanbul-based club to third place, 11 points behind first place, and in his second season, a four win, four loss start to the season saw Rijkaard sacked by the club.
Rijkaard's next job (his current one) was with the Saudi Arabian national team. The short term goal for Rijkaard wasn't too difficult; all he had to do was qualify the national team, which qualified for every tournament from 1994 to 2006, for the World Cup.
But even here, Rijkaard failed to even make it to the final round of AFC qualification with Saudi Arabia, and only still has a job due to the massive amount of money Saudi Arabia would owe him if they fired him so early in his contract.
So there you have it. It's a small sample size, sure, but Barcelona's most successful managers have not been successful at other clubs. Guardiola might break the trend, but more signs point to him continuing it than veering away from it.
Few Clubs Are as Wealthy as Barcelona
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Though it isn't often acknowledged, Guardiola spent big during his time at Barcelona.
This summer, he recruited Cesc Fabregas for €29 million and Alexis Sanchez for €26 million + bonuses.
His big purchases in past seasons have included David Villa (€40 million), Javier Mascherano (€19 million), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (€42 million + Samuel Eto'o), Keirrison (€14 million+ bonuses), Dmytro Chygrynskiy (€25 million), Seydou Keita (€14 million), Martin Caceres (€16.5 million), Alexander Hleb (€11.8 million) and Dani Alves (€35 million).
That's a lot of money. With the exception of Real Madrid, Manchester City and maybe Chelsea, football clubs don't have that kind of spending power.
In the absence of a good youth system and tiki-taka-trained players, you'd expect Guardiola to do heavy recruiting from outside at whatever club he goes to.
The problem is that he'll be expected to heavily scale things back financially, unless he lands a job at City or Chelsea, both of which have managers more favored to coach them next season.
He Won't Find a More Welcoming Home Than Barcelona
When Pep Guardiola was appointed as manager of Barcelona, he was warmly embraced by the Barcelona faithful, even though he arrived with only a year of managing Barcelona B under his belt.
Even when he quickly went about discarding three of the club's best players in recent years, he was allowed to do it with little question.
He was afforded such a warm welcome because of his connections with the club. Guardiola had given over a decade to Barcelona as a player, winning six La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys and one European Cup, among other trophies.
Wherever Guardiola goes after his sabbatical, he'll be embraced by the fans for his prestige and reputation. But he won't have the same undying devotion that the Catalan fanbase gave him.
He'll go from being a regional hero to being just another manager managing a football club. And though Guardiola may not realize it now, that's a big step down.