Pep Guardiola: Chelsea and Manchester City to fight for manager but Manchester United concede defeat

Old Trafford club believe coach will go to the Etihad when he leaves Bayern Munich in the summer, but Roman Abramovich believes he could yet lure the Spaniard to London

The three-way fight between Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea for Pep Guardiola appears to have become a two-way struggle today, with the Old Trafford club reported to have conceded defeat.

Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of the season, by which time he may well have added a third Bundesliga title to his 19 career trophies, and has already revealed he wants to manage in the Premier League. He said this week he had received ‘several offers’ in England, though no agreement had been reached.

Realistically, there are only three options for the Spaniard in City, United and Chelsea, all of whom will potentially be looking for a new manager at the end of the season. Of those three, City are favourites, particularly given the presence of former Barcelona executives Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano.

City’s shaky title challenge under Manuel Pellegrini also looks certain to lead to a managerial change.

United are also looking at their options for an eventual successor to Louis van Gaal, but today’s Manchester Evening News reports that the club will not challenge their neighbours for his signature, believing a deal for the manager is as good as completed. That may not sit well with United fans, who want a high-profile replacement for the struggling Van Gaal. The club have kept faith in Van Gaal despite a turbulent season that has seen them fall from first to fifth in the Premier League table.

But while United have accepted defeat, the Evening Standard reports champions Chelsea have told Guardiola they will award him a contract bigger than anything City offer. The paper adds that Chelsea’s bid to secure Guardiola could be boosted by the preference of his wife, Cristina Serra.

Guus Hiddink is in charge at Chelsea until the end of the season and has already arrested his side’s slump, taking eight points from his four games since replacing Jose Mourinho last month.