Pep Guardiola Pledges Manchester City Stay Until 2021 Amid Juventus Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2019

Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola poses with the trophy after the English FA Cup Final soccer match between Manchester City and Watford at Wembley stadium in London, Saturday, May 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

Pep Guardiola has been linked with succeeding Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus, but he sounds more than happy to stay at Manchester City for another two years.

Guardiola, who is contracted to the Citizens until the end of the 2020-21 campaign, waxed lyrical about working at City during an interview with the club's official website (h/t Michael Kelleher of Sky Sports):ย "It's the perfect place to work. I don't know at other clubs in England but I especially feel it here.ย That's why I am happy to reward their confidence with my players for the next two seasons."

The feeling he needs to pay back City and the club's fans comes from the support Guardiola received during his first season in Manchester: "I didn't win a title in the first year and people still supported us. I will never forget that."

Guardiola was referring to finishing third in the Premier League during the 2016/17 campaign. That season the Citizens were also beaten in the FA Cup semi-final by Arsenal and exited the UEFA Champions League in the last 16 thanks to AS Monaco.

Things have been dramatically better since, though. Guardiola and his team captured the league title with a record 100 points in 2018, before winning a historic domestic treble this season:

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Achievements on this scale naturally make Guardiola the most sought-after manager in world football. Juventus were quickly linked, particularly after Allegri stepped down despite winning five Serie A titles and four Coppa Italia trophies in Turin.

Yet the Bianconeri quickly played down talk of Guardiola arriving at the Allianz Stadium this summer:

Even so, links between Guardiola and Juve have persisted. Former centre-back Andrea Barzagli recently told La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Goal's Sacha Pisani) "it's nice to dream" when discussing the idea of Guardiola taking over at his old club.

Barzagli also said nothing has been finalised in regards to Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri getting the job instead. However, the 60-year-old is expected to sign a three-year deal with Juve after the Blues sanctioned his exit from Stamford Bridge, according to Fabrizio Romano of the Guardian.

City fans will hope Sarri is quickly appointed as Allegri's replacement, leaving Guardiola to continue his superb work at the Etihad Stadium. As good as he's been, the 48-year-old still has unfinished business in the blue half of Manchester.

Notably, a Champions League trophy continues to elude City on Guardiola's watch. The 2016-17 round-of-16 defeat to Monaco was followed by quarter-final losses to domestic rivals Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively.

Despite his struggles, Guardiola believes bringing Europe's top prize to City is inevitable: "If it doesn't happen next season, it will be the next season, and if it doesn't happen next season it will be the next season."

Landing the trophy City crave may be more difficult than he thinks. The club is being investigated amid allegationsย of the club flouting financial fair play rules, which were brought to light byย German publicationย Derย Spiegelย in 2018.

A ban from the Champions League is a potential punishment, prompting City to ask the Court of Arbitration of Sport to dismiss UEFA's investigation and case, per Associated Press reporter Rob Harris.

At the moment, Guardiola sounds both confident and content he can fulfil all of his ambitions during two more years in charge at City.ย  ย ย