Camp Nou congratulations for Guardiola
Pep Guardiola's decision to return to management with Bayern Munich this summer has received the thumbs up from colleagues at his former club Barcelona.
Guardiola, currently on a year-long sabbatical after leaving Barca last summer, looked to have his pick of some of Europe's biggest clubs with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, AC Milan, Roma and Paris St Germain all linked to his services. However, it was Bayern who won the race for the 41-year-old, announcing yesterday he had signed a three-year deal and would be taking over at the end of the season when current manager Jupp Heynckes retires.
Tito Vilanova, who was Guardiola's assistant during four record-breaking years at Barca before being installed as his successor last year, admitted he was unaware what decision Guardiola had taken about his future, but feels Bayern is a good destination for him. "I didn't know where he was going, I didn't know anything. I suppose he couldn't say. I'm very happy that he's returning to football and to one of Europe's great clubs," he said.
"I don't know what possible teams he could have gone to, nor the kinds of contracts he was offered but I'm sure they were all of the top level. He had time to choose and would have thought it all over very well. What's clear is that he couldn't go wrong because they were all top teams. And Bayern are an historic club, with four Champions League titles with some fantastic facilities."
Vilanova also insisted he had no idea who Guardiola's assistant would be amid speculation former Spain and Real Madrid striker Raul, who spent two seasons in Germany with Schalke before leaving for Qatar last summer, could be in line for the role. Guardiola's decision has also gone down well with others at the Camp Nou.
Barça sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said: "I'm very pleased for Guardiola. It means that he's doing well and that he's well rested, it means that he's eager to return to the world of football. Bayern have made a great signing.
"Bayern are a club that can offer you a solid and stable project, they also have good players. He's found what he was looking for and I'm happy. I'm sure that he will bring something new and will oblige all of us to move forward."
Club captain Carles Puyol said on his club's website: "They (Bayern) are a very good team and he is a great coach. He's going to one of the greats in Europe and we wish him the best."
Midfielder Javier Mascherano added: "It was expected that Guardiola would coach a great club and Bayern are one of them. They have great German players and style of play and philosophy similar to which you find here."