Rumours had been rife for some time, but on Monday, 1 February the news was made official: Pep Guardiola will be joining English Premier League club Manchester City after leaving Bayern Munich this coming summer.
"I want to experience a new city and to work in England," the Spanish coach, whose vast trophy haul includes FIFA Club World Cups won with both Barcelona and the Bavarian giants, recently said when explaining his decision to seek pastures new. "If I were 60 or 65, I would probably have stayed in Germany. But I'm still young and I need a new challenge. My career is a long way from over."
Following four years at the helm of Barça (2008-12) and a further three at Bayern (2013-16), during which he has amassed a total of 19 trophies, the 45-year-old will embark on a new adventure in another land next season. But just what is it that makes the 2011 FIFA World Coach of the Year – who has also finished as the runner-up for the prize twice (in 2012 and 2015), coming third in 2010 – so special? Why were all the top clubs on the planet battling to secure his services?
To help answer these questions, here at FIFA.comwe have compiled some of the views from players who have admired or worked under Guardiola.
"He lives for football day and night, through thick and thin. He's constantly thinking about the game. He's always searching for weaknesses in opponents and his own team's strengths. That combination is what enables him to serve up football of the highest quality. He always offers his players solutions because he knows exactly how the opposition are going to play. For instance, if he spots an opening in the middle of the park, he'll keep coming back to that. He'll focus our game on this space, deliberating over how to best capitalise on it. Not all coaches are capable of getting such a precise picture of the situation." *Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich captain) in an interview with ZEIT ***
"He covers every angle to the smallest detail and he always demands 100 per cent in training and in games. Working with him has been just what I needed. You can learn something new in every training session." *Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich) ***
"Pep is more important to Barcelona than me. Since he arrived, he has changed everything for us. He is an essential part of the Barcelona project. He has won everything there is to win." *Five-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona) in March 2012 ***
He mentioned one or two things that I could work on, but he also told me 'not to worry. Keep playing the way you've always played, because that's why we signed you.' That kind of thing gives a player a real boost.
"He sees football in ways nobody else does, and then he explains it better than anyone. Lots of coaches just tell you to move right or move left, but he gives you the reasons why, which means you clearly understand why you're doing something. And so, without even realising it, you learn more and more every day and start to make your own decisions out on the pitch. On top of that, you have the way he motivates us. Pep doesn't let us take our foot off the pedal. He's always on our case and trying to get the very best out of each one of us." *Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona) talking to FIFA.com ***
"Guardiola can adapt to any club. He's capable of winning anywhere. He just needs a little time to get his message and ideas across to the players, but after that success will follow." Victor Valdes (Spain, Barcelona 2002-14)
"He's been a very positive influence. The coach's instructions on attacking and defending are clearly vital, and he helps me a lot. I feel very comfortable working with him and that's reflected out on the pitch. I feel at home and perform equally well in the centre or on either flank. I'm very pleased to be getting along so well ." David Villa (Spain, Barcelona 2010-13)
"His ideas are incredible. He's a coach who knows exactly what his players think and feel." Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany, Bayern Munich 2002-15)
"Generally people think that after the age of 30, players go into decline. But I have the feeling that I can still learn new things. I think that Guardiola has made me even better." *Arjen Robben (Netherlands, Bayern Munich) ***
"Guardiola explains how you should move, which is something I'd never experienced before. In training, he'll say to you, 'Do this!' At the time, you say to yourself, 'Why is he telling me to do that?' Then, on matchday, you do what he's told you and it comes off. So far, it's always worked!" *Eric Abidal (France, Barcelona 2008-12) ***
"Guardiola is a sensational guy. When he was a player he already behaved like a coach out on the pitch: he used to boss the team. He's a very reasonable man, he knows the players well and knows exactly what they need. We know that he's always on our side. Soon after I joined we had a conversation that had a big impact on me. He called me over and said: 'I don't want you to change the way you play.' And of course he mentioned one or two things that I could work on, but he also told me 'not to worry. Keep playing the way you've always played, because that's why we signed you.' That kind of thing gives a player a real boost. And even now, thanks in large part to him, I know that I still keep getting better." Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona) on FIFA.com