Door closed: Guardiola rejects Barça return

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has closed the door on a return to Barcelona at any time in the future.

Guardiola, whose contract with City expires in June 2025, hinted in May that next season could be his last at the Etihad.

When asked on Monday if a return to Barça could be on the cards, Guardiola, who guided the Catalan outfit to 14 honours during his four seasons in charge, said: “It’s a door that is closed.”

The 53-year-old spoke during a news conference at his annual golf tournament, the Legends Trophy, that is being played in Girona, Spain.

“The Barça bench is one of the most complicated because you have to manage many cases. In Manchester everything we do remains inside and at Barça, everything comes out,” he said.

The former Barça player coached City to a record fourth-successive Premier League title one year after leading his team to a historic treble.

Barça finished the 2023-24 campaign trophy-less and appointed Hansi Flick as Xavi Hernández’s replacement in May. Xavi was dismissed at the end of the season with the club looking for a change in direction.

Xavi took over the Spanish team in November 2021 and was often compared to Guardiola.

Guardiola said of those comparisons: “What is certain is that it’s not my fault. That’s for sure. I’ve been 11 or 12 years away from Barcelona. I’m not a suspect in that sense. Ask that to those that have made the comparisons, I haven’t. I wish Xavi the best in finding a new challenge.”

As for Xavi’s successor, Guardiola said he believes Barça are in good hands. Flick, who had been out of work since September 2023 when he was fired by the Germany national team, had previously overseen considerable success at Bayern Munich.

The German manager won the Champions League as part of a treble in 2020 before he took on the Germany job in the summer of 2021.

“I wish him the best of luck in the world,” Guardiola said.

“When you arrive at a new club you always need help. You have to try to get help from within and have total support. You have to go little by little. You can’t be champion in September or October.

“Hansi is an extraordinary person, who has a lot of desire. A lot. But he needs his time. What he did at Bayern was extraordinary, he won everything.”

Barça finished runners-up to Real Madrid in LaLiga, with their rivals adding France star Kylian Mbappé to their already strong roster.

“With or without Mbappé, they are always strong,” Guardiola said.

“It’s the rival to beat in the Champions [League], without a doubt. Everyone knows that. For all of us that are behind them, it’s a motivation to try to beat them. Madrid has always been very strong and they are adding up front a player that has a lot of strength.”

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