Pep Guardiola has set out why he wants to manage in the Premier League after returning from his sabbatical next season, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United all monitoring his position and the former Barcelona coach speaking publicly for the first time about what attracts him to English football.
"I've always found English football very fascinating, for the environment, the crowd and the supporters," Guardiola said. "In Italy, Latin people will support you when you are playing and when you lose, they kill you. In England I'm always surprised that people always support everything and that is nice. That's why, maybe, I hope to have the challenge or the opportunity to train there.
"As a player, I couldn't realise my dream to play there. But I hope in the future I have a challenge to be a coach or a manager there and feel the experience of all the coaches and players that have been there. It is unique, to play in that league. The support is amazing. I want to feel the supporters, the environment, the media and the style of the players and everything. I am still young, just 41, so I hope in the future I could be able to train there and enjoy that."
Guardiola was speaking ahead of the FA's 150th anniversary commemorations in London on Wednesday, fully aware of the interest in him from the Premier League's first-, second- and third-placed clubs and only 24 hours after José Mourinho's confirmation that he, too, sees working in England as his future.
Roman Abramovich has made it a near-obsession to bring Guardiola to Chelsea, pointedly handing Rafael Benítez the title of "interim manager" after giving him a contract to the end of the season in place of Roberto Di Matteo. United, meanwhile, have Guardiola at the top of their wish-list to replace Sir Alex Ferguson when the long-serving manager retires, and there is also the possibility that the regime at City will try to bring him in at the end of the season, at the expense of Roberto Mancini.
Ferran Soriano, City's chief executive, and his right-hand man, the director of football, Txiki Begiristain, were at Camp Nou with Guardiola and, if the Catalan club are to be believed, seem determined to bring together more former Barcelona employees to help City's transition under the wealth of Abu Dhabi's royal family.
Bayern Munich and Milan have also been linked with Guardiola, as have Paris St-Germain to a lesser degree, but what is becoming increasingly clear is Guardiola's admiration for English football.
He, like Mourinho, has sent the FA a good-luck message ahead of the anniversary, speaking at length about his fondness for the nation that "created the rules of football" and has "been important in the development of our beautiful, beautiful game."
One of the reasons, he said, was his experiences of the old and new Wembley stadiums, winning the European Cup as a 21-year-old for Barcelona in 1992 and then, as manager, guiding the club to the 2011 Champions League at United's expense. "I am a lucky guy because I had the opportunity to play two finals, both in England at Wembley, and that's why my relationship with England is pretty close," he said.
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