Pep Guardiola linked with return to Barcelona following Tito Vilanova health scare

Guardiola linked with return to Barcelona as current coach has an operation on tumour


Today's Champions League draw in Nyon will be of secondary importance for the competition's favourites, Barcelona, with their coach Tito Vilanova due to undergo an operation to remove a tumour at the Calatan city's Vall d'Hebron hospital this morning.

Amid speculation linking Pep Guardiola with a return to the club as they face up to the second half of the season with Vilanova recovering from surgery, early indications are that Barcelona will leave his assistant, Jordi Roura, in charge at least until Champions League football returns in February.

The club confirmed last night that after surgery and three or four days in hospital Vilanova would need around six weeks of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and according to progress could, during this time, combine his treatment with a return to work.

The 44-year-old Barcelona manager was originally diagnosed with cancer of the parotid gland last year. He had an operation in November 2011 and recovered, replacing Guardiola as first-team coach when he left at the end of last season.

On the day of his presentation Vilanova spoke of the task ahead being nowhere near as daunting as overcoming cancer.

But his latest check-up revealed the tumour had returned and he was told on Tuesday, just as the club was announcing that defender Eric Abidal had been given the all-clear to play football again after a liver transplant, that he would need another operation.

Last weekend, Vilanova spoke about his illness in part of a charity telemarathon, saying: "All I could think about was my wife and my children who are 14 and 17 and still need me. I don't know if I would have coped as well as they did."

The show of support yesterday for the Barcelona coach prompted Vilanova's son Adria, a current youth team player with the club, to tweet: "Thank you to everyone for the support, you are all fantastic, everything will be fine."

The football ramifications should Guardiola step in to help his former side next year will be felt by the various clubs at today's draw waiting to see what the Spaniard's next move will be. Vilanova's No 2 Roura took yesterday's training session and will take charge of Saturday's La Liga game against Valladolid before the mid-winter break. A former Barça youth-team player who made 10 appearances for the club, Vilanova is likely to still be in charge on 6 January when the club return to league action in the Catalan derby against Espanyol.

Barça are nine points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid in the league and 13 clear of Real Madrid so there is a feeling that with a dressing room full of hugely experienced players led by captains Xavi and Carles Puyol they can afford to delay any decision about whether Vilanova can return to his job.

Guardiola would be the people's choice to step in if a new coach was needed although Luis Enrique, a former Barcelona player and B-team coach under Guardiola, is currently enjoying a sabbatical in Catalonia and would be another viable option.

Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
premier league
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam