Chelsea shunned as Pep Guardiola is named Bayern Munich manager

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Former Barcelona coach to return to management in Germany

Bayern Munich today confirmed that Pep Guardiola will take over the Bundesliga side from the end of the current season.

The former Barcelona coach has signed a three-year deal that runs until 2016.

Current Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, whose contract expires at the end of the current campaign, will remain until the end of the season with Guardiola starting work on July 1.

Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world and we are sure that he can make not just Bayern, but all of German football shine."

Today's surprise announcement brings an end to speculation about where the Spaniard would ply his trade.

Having brought his four year spell at Barcelona to an end last summer, during which time he won 14 trophies including three league titles and two Champions Leagues, the 41-year-old took a sabbatical from the game.

He announced recently that he was ready to return to the game, and was most strongly linked with a move to Chelsea, where owner Roman Abramovich has coveted his services for some time.

In pictures: Pep Guardiola

Speculation that he would move to Stamford Bridge increased only yesterday when he said he wanted to manage in England, having never fulfilled his dream to play here.

He said: "As a player, I couldn't realise my dream to play there [in England]. 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. 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. I've always found English football very fascinating.

"The support is amazing. In Italy, Latin people will support you when they are playing well 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."

It would appear Guardiola, who was speaking at the FA's national football centre, was simply leading everyone on. He had also been linked with Manchester City had they decided to make a change - where their two high-ranking former Barcelona executives, Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, would surely have opted for their former colleague.

Manchester United had also been linked with Guardiola had Sir Alex Ferguson decided to retire.

However it is with Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga that Guardiola returns to work.

Only yesterday Bayern's media director Markus Horwick dismissed speculation linking the Spaniard with the current league leaders as "complete rubbish".

Bayern are still smarting over their narrow failures in the Champions League, most recently in last year's final when they lost to Chelsea on penalties and in 2010 to Inter Milan in the final. It would appear the appointment of Guardiola will have been made with that in mind considering his European pedigree.

Today's announcement will most frustrate Chelsea, who brought in Rafael Benitez earlier this season as 'interim-manager' in a clear indication of their desire to employ Guardiola when he returned to work.

Benitez has been vastly unpopular with Chelsea fans since his appointment, however the pill has been marginally easier to swallow with the assumption he would be disposed of at the end of the season. Benitez's reign now appears much likelier to continue beyond the current campaign, however the calls for Jose Mourinho to return will increase.

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