The clock is ticking on Manchester City and Pep Guardiola’s hopes to together bring a first European Cup to the Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola said he will take a break in 2023 at the end of his contract with Man City before likely moving into international football.
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
“A national team is the next step,” Guardiola said. “I must take a break after seven years. I need to stop and see, learn from other coaches, and maybe take that path. … I would like to train for a European Championship, a Copa America, a World Cup.”
Well, this is not entirely unexpected but also puts limits on Guardiola’s project: Two more chances at a quadruple. Two more chances at the Champions League.
So what’s next for City and what could be Pep’s next stop? Read on…
What does this mean for City’s next two campaigns?
Put plainly, it certainly makes the idea of signing Cristiano Ronaldo or Robert Lewandowski feel more possible.
It also underscores why City was willing to bid so much for Harry Kane at age 28. City’s signing profile for big-dollar transfers has tended to be 25 or younger in recent years with exceptions in the cases of Riyad Mahrez (27) and Kyle Walker (27).
Is this a coincidence that the news emerges publicly and straightforward a day after Kane commits to Spurs for at least a few more months? Perhaps, and it certainly does underscore the idea that City will make a center forward signing in the next few days.
This writer has long floated the idea that Lewandowski’s next challenge after running down numerous Bundesliga records at Bayern would be to join Guardiola’s City. Could it happen?
A Ronaldo move still seems absurd given the striker’s connections to Manchester United and reports that City “has no intention” to give Juventus a transfer fee and also would lower CR7’s massive wages.
And of course Pep may also be planning some absurd but brilliant tactical move that lands Zack Steffen or Aymeric Laporte up top City’s attack while walking on their hands. It would somehow work and City would score seven a game.
Where would Pep Guardiola fit best in European or South American football?
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Guardiola manage Lionel Messi or Neymar in a Copa America, or lead Spain into EURO?
Of course, but don’t hold your breath, at least in terms of Messi. Given Guardiola’s plans to take a break In 2023, La Pulga Atómica will turn 37 the year of the next Copa America (2024).
Lest we forget that break will also be necessary as Guardiola has only implemented his system at clubs where he unrivaled access to his players (as well as a budget to fill holes).
2024 is also a EURO year. There are some complicated layers to Guardiola taking the Spanish job, were it to be open, as Pep earned 47 caps there but also played for the Catalonia national team and has advocated for reform and a vote on Catalan independence.
It would seem out of his norm for Guardiola to not take the reins of a big, historic club. In South America, it feels that Brazil and Argentina would be the most logical landing spots.
In Europe, there are a lot more jobs. Imagine Gareth Southgate steps down after the 2022 World Cup.
How would England react to Pep leading Phil Foden, John Stones, and Co. into EURO? What if the 2022 World Cup goes poorly for the United States or Mexico? Any chance Guardiola fancies the reins there? He did finish his playing career south of the U.S. border.