BARCELONA

Barcelona president Laporta targets Pep Guardiola

The new Blaugrana president plans to call the Manchester City manager following the Champions League final, with the intent of convincing him to return.

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Recently reappointed FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta has not yet thrown in the towel in his fight to lure Pep Guardiola away from Manchester City. What for many Barça fans seems more like an impossible dream, or simply a mission doomed for failure, it is one he is willing to take on.

AS has learned that Laporta’s intentions are to contact the current coach of the Premier League winners on Sunday to propose a return to the Camp Nou.

Laporta to tempt Guardiola after UCL final

The Barça chief would have been in touch before this weekend but is more than aware that Guardiola is one hundred percent focused on the Champions League final against Chelsea which takes place on Saturday evening in Portugal, and knows it would be counterproductive to divert any attention away from this or distract him with an official offer.

Laporta has made it clear to some of those closest to him that he believes he is capable of convincing Guardiola to return. However, it is possibly, and more likely, that any agreement made would be to take over not next season, but the from the 2022/23 season onwards.

It is for this reason, according to reports from Spanish network TV3, that during the meeting with Ronald Koeman on Tuesday the president was rather vague with his current coach, asking for a couple of weeks to make a decision on his future. With this window, if Laporta is able to make the right offer to club legend Pep to return to the Catalan dugout, then Koeman would serve out his remaining year on his contract and leave for free in the summer of 2022, saving the club eight million euros in compensation.

Champion | Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates with the trophy after winning the Premier League 2020/21.

Despite his optimism, many believe this attempt by Laporte to be a fool’s errand. Yes, it would be a masterstroke for the new man in charge to get fans onside immediately but Guardiola himself has stated on more than one occasion that he would never return to Barcelona to be coach. As well as this is the small matter of him recently renewing his contract with the Manchester club until 2023, with an option for an additional year.

But Laporta is determined to give it a go and intends to make the call on Sunday. Depending on the outcome of that conversation, Laporta is then expected to give Koeman his answer about the future: stay a year before being replaced by candidate number one, or potentially advise him that his time is up if a more preferable name is available this summer.

After Zidane and Conte ended their respective jobs at Real Madrid and Inter Milan respectively, and with other managers being freed up after the Euros, it certainly feels like we're in for a 2021 managerial merry-go-round at the elite level.