Pep Guardiola will one day return to the "big family" of Barcelona, according to club President Josep Bartomeu.
The former manager, who took a sabbatical after leaving the Catalan club in 2012, led Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title during his first season in a second managerial role.
With Barcelona toiling under the frustrating tutelage of Gerardo Martino last year, who has now been replaced by former captain Luis Enrique, it may be easy for fans to yearn for Guardiola's era of success once more.
Bartomeu believes Guardiola will follow in Enrique's steps and head back to the institution at some point in his career.
"Those who have Barca in their hearts come back to help the club. I see a lot of people who will be at Barca in the future," Bartomeu said when questioned about Guardiola during an interview with CNN's James Montague and Amanda Davies. "In 2022, many of the players who are here now, or others currently at other clubs, will come back to Barça as coaches, directors of football or even presidents because at the end of the day, we are all like one big family."
Guardiola ranks alongside the most influential coaches in football history, despite only possessing six years' worth of managerial experience. He won 14 trophies during four years in the Blaugrana hot seat, including three La Liga titles and two Champions League triumphs.
Perhaps more importantly, his development of the club's style helped define Barcelona's modern image. Guardiola employed "tiki-taka," a fast-paced passing rhythm that prioritises ball retention above all.
This ran through the entire team, with goalkeeper Victor Valdes often starting moves with a simple pass to his defender, rather than punting the ball hopelessly up field. Barca would keep possession and make sure the opposition worked hard to regain it, opening plenty of spaces across the pitch.
Such an iconic brand of football faltered under Martino, who sought to add a greater resiliency to the side's strategy. The Argentinian looked for Plan B, but he managed to eradicate the safety net of Guardiola's blueprint by doing so.
Guardiola can also be credited with nurturing Lionel Messi's ascension to greatness. He turned Messi into an effective focal point without ever discrediting the importance of his other stars, reinforcing the forward's individual qualities by allowing all players to express themselves at all times. Both Messi and the team were galvanised with this in mind.
Guardiola's forthright manner and particular way of doing things hasn't been without its criticism. He is constantly under the spotlight at Bayern for making the team his own—such as his decision to move Philipp Lahm into midfield on a regular basis—but indicated he has no problem leaving if the club doesn't approve.
"I have to accept the criticism," said Guardiola, as reported by Mundo Deportivo (via ESPN.co.uk). "I tell myself 'Pep, calm down'. You are here to work as well as possible, and my best talent is work, work, work. I am here to help the club, and if the club do not want me, a handshake and no problem for me."
Often hot-headed, Guardiola's behaviour after Bayern's pre-season loss to the MLS All-Stars has brought him under the spotlight once more. The Spanish manager failed to shake the hand of Portland Timbers and MLS All-Star head coach Caleb Porter on Wednesday evening (U.S. time), as noted by SportsCenter:
This may be due to the rough treatment of the MLS side, who offered Bayern little comfort during the friendly match. Both Osvaldo Alonso and Will Johnson received yellow cards for overzealous challenges, while Bastian Schweinsteiger picked up a bruised ankle after just 10 minutes on the pitch, as noted by the club's Twitter account.
Bundesliga specialist Clark Whitney commented on Guardiola's frustration:
Bartomeu wouldn't want to see such irritations occur at Barca, but his certainty of the Catalan club's lure indicates Guardiola's Camp Nou timeline is yet to conclude.
It is testimony to Guardiola that he remains so fondly revered at a club that possesses a history of defining managers, players and winners. Guardiola is in the exclusive group who transcends the boundary between all three, making him an excellent candidate to rekindle Barcelona's success sometime in the future.
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