Guardiola 'to leave' Barca

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola

First published in National Sport News © by

Barcelona have called a press conference for this lunchtime at which Pep Guardiola is expected to announce he will leave the club at the end of the season.

Guardiola spoke to the players before training on Friday morning with reports in Catalonia suggesting he has decided not to renew his contract which expires in the summer and will quit the Nou Camp after four hugely successful years as coach. He is set to announce his decision alongside Barca president Sandro Rosell and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.

Guardiola is thought to have met with Rosell, vice-president for sport Josep Maria Bartomeu and Zubizarreta on Wednesday - the day after Barca were eliminated from the Champions League by Chelsea - and indicated his desire to leave. At the club's request he promised to give it further thought but emerged with the same decision.

Guardiola stepped up from Barca B manager to first-team boss in 2008 and has gone on to become the most successful coach in the club's illustrious history.

He has led the azulgrana to two Champions League crowns, three La Liga trophies, one Copa del Rey, three Supercopas, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA Club World Cups.

But the setback against Chelsea came just 72 hours after Barca's hopes of retaining their Primera Division crown were dashed following a 2-1 defeat at home to arch rivals Real Madrid. That loss left them seven points behind Jose Mourinho's men with four games remaining and also ended their domestic dominance.

Guardiola led Barca to the Primera Division title in his first season in charge after masterminding a squad overhaul which saw the likes of Ronaldinho and Deco shipped out and a greater emphasis placed on youth.

The results were immediate. Not only did Barca win the league - the highlight being a 6-2 thrashing of Madrid at the Bernabeu - but they also claimed the Copa del Rey and Champions League crowns.

Speculation has already started as to who will replace Guardiola, with Ernesto Valverde, Marcelo Bielsa and Laurent Blanc all thought to be in the frame.

As for Guardiola, he is expected to take a sabbatical from the game despite being linked with numerous jobs across Europe. He has been suggested as a contender for the England job, but Press Association Sport understands that not to be the case.

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