Barcelona 'very happy' with Pep Guardiola decision to manager Bayern Munich

Former manager had been sought by a wealth of clubs

Pep Guardiola's decision to return to management with Bayern Munich this summer has received the thumbs up from his former club Barcelona.

Guardiola, currently on a year-long sabbatical after leaving Barca last summer, looked to have his pick of some of Europe's biggest clubs with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, AC Milan, Roma and Paris St Germain all linked to his services.

However, it was Bayern who won the race for the 41-year-old, announcing yesterday he had signed a three-year deal and would be taking over at the end of the season when current manager Jupp Heynckes retires.

Tito Vilanova, who was Guardiola's assistant during four record-breaking years at Barca before being installed as his successor last year, admitted he was unaware what decision Guardiola had taken about his future, but feels Bayern is a good destination for him.

"I didn't know where he was going, I didn't know anything. I suppose he couldn't say. I'm very happy that he's returning to football and to one of Europe's great clubs," he said.

"I don't know what possible teams he could have gone to, nor the kinds of contracts he was offered but I'm sure they were all of the top level. He had time to choose and would have thought it all over very well.

"What's clear is that he couldn't go wrong because they were all top teams. And Bayern are an historic club, with four Champions League titles with some fantastic facilities."

Vilanova also insisted he had no idea who Guardiola's assistant would be amid speculation former Spain and Real Madrid striker Raul, who spent two seasons in Germany with Schalke before leaving for Qatar last summer, could be in line for the role

Guardiola's decision has also gone down well with others at the Nou Camp.

Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said: "I'm very pleased for Guardiola. It means that he's doing well and that he's well rested, it means that he's eager to return to the world of football. Bayern have made a great signing.

"Bayern are a club that can offer you a solid and stable project, they also have good players. He's found what he was looking for and I'm happy.

"I'm sure that he will bring something new and will oblige all of us to move forward."

Club captain Carles Puyol said on his club's website: "They (Bayern) are a very good team and he is a great coach. He's going to one of the greats in Europe and we wish him the best."

Midfielder Javier Mascherano added: "It was expected that Guardiola would coach a great club and Bayern are one of them. They have great German players and style of play and philosophy similar to which you find here."

The appointment proves the strength of Bayern's global reputation, according to the club's honorary president Franz Beckenbauer.

"It shows they are on a par with the real greats - Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United," Beckenbauer told Sky television.

"Hats off to them. I'm sure Guardiola was snowed under with offers.

"He has become one of the most successful and best coaches in recent years and to get him is excellent."

Guardiola's impending arrival in the Bundesliga has been met with approval elsewhere in Germany.

"All I can do is congratulate them from the bottom of my heart, and without any envy," said Hans-Joachim Watzke, general manager of Bayern's biggest Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.

"You have got to say hats off to them," he added in Die Welt newspaper. "This is a huge thing for the Bundesliga as it gives it an even greater reputation internationally."

Former Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, whose success in leading the club to five Bundesliga titles and Champions League glory is seen as the benchmark for Guardiola, praised his former club for beating off illustrious competition for Guardiola's signature.

"It's just typical Bayern," he said. "They are always good for a major transfer.

"For Guardiola to come is a very important sign for the club. Once again, they have managed to lay the foundations in advance and avoid speculation early on."

PA

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