Former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola has finally come out and spoken about his desire to manage a club in the English Premier League.
The possibility of seeing the Spaniard take up a new position for the 2013-14 season opens the exciting prospect of renewing his fierce rivalry with current Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, who recently expressed his wish to return to England where he enjoyed three successful years as boss at Chelsea.
Guardiola, who put together what many people consider to be the greatest club team ever seen, walked away from the Catalan giants in the summer of 2012 after four years and fourteen major honours. He is currently enjoying a one year sabbatical from management with his family in New York while weighing up his options.
While names such as Bayern Munich and AC Milan have been mentioned as possible destinations for the 41-year-old, a high profile assignment in the Premier League has always been the most likely outcome.
His former rival from Spain’s La Liga, Jose Mourinho, is currently experiencing choppy waters at the Santiago Bernabeu. After finally getting the better of Guardiola when winning the Spanish championship in 2011-12, this season has proved something of a nightmare for the two-time Champions League winner.
Real Madrid currently lie way off the blistering pace set by their bitter enemies in La Liga, while they soon face a season defining clash with Manchester United in the Champions League round of 16.
Defeat to the Red Devils could spell the end of Mourinho in the Spanish capital paving the way for a move back to a country he knows and enjoys so much.
Both men are in demand and the big question is: Where will they end up?
The obvious destinations for both are Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United.
Mourinho, who coached the Blues to two Premier League titles will feel he has unfinished business at Stamford Bridge, also has to repair his relationship with owner, Roman Abramovich, who sacked the Portuguese manager in 2007.
The Russian billionaire is thought to favour a move for Guardiola, whose work at Barcelona he wishes to see replicated in west London, although the Chelsea fans would be delirious at the prospect of a return for ‘The Special One’.
Following their second successive failure to get out of the Champions League group stage, Manchester City could also be ready to change their man in charge should current chief, Roberto Mancini, fail to retain their Premier League crown.
Guardiola could be the front runner for that post with his former teammate and colleague from Barcelona, Txiki Begiristain, in-situ as Director of Football at the Etihad Stadium. With an almost endless pot of transfer money available and a friend in the boardroom, this could be a very attractive option for the ex-Barca coach.
Finally, there is Manchester United. Sir Alex Ferguson who has been at the helm at Old Trafford for over 26 years and recently turned 72-years-old is nearing retirement. Although his position may not become available for the start of 2013-14, if the next incumbent is patient, then there is almost no bigger role in club football.
Ferguson himself is likely to be the man charged with selecting his own replacement, and having enjoyed his past encounters with Guardiola and Mourinho, has a healthy respect and relationship with both men. One or the other is likely to be the long term successor to Fergie’s throne.