It's official: Pep Guardiola to leave Bayern Munich at the conclusion of the 2015 2016 campaign. The Spanish head coach, who has become a legend thanks to his stints in charge at Barcelona and Bayern, has been managing the Bavarians since 2013, on a three-year contract. That contract expires in summer 2016, something that has caused fans and soccer pundits alike to speculate about Guardiola's future all season long.
Bayern Munich officially confirmed that Guardiola was leaving on Sunday, a day after the football club won their final match of the year, a 1-0 away fixture against Hannover 96. The win leaves the reigning German champions up eight points in the Bundesliga, well on their way to winning a fourth consecutive title-and a third with Guardiola in charge. The wearers or the Bayern Munich home shirt 2015/16 are also in good shape in the Champions League and the DFB Pokal, and could feasibly win a treble in 2016-a fitting way to send their world-class manager on his way.
Shakeups All Around
Not that Bayern Munich will have to go without a world-class manager, even after Guardiola has moved on. Former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has already been announced as Pep's replacement, and will take over this summer on a three-year deal.
Ancelotti has been on something of a sabbatical since last spring when he was sacked from Real Madrid for not winning a La Liga title. Football fans mostly decried that decision, as Ancelotti had broken Real's lengthy Champions League dry spell to earn the club a landmark 10th trophy in the prestigious European soccer tournament. (Ancelotti also won the Champions League twice while coaching AC Milan.)
Ancelotti's replacement, Rafael Benitez, has had something of a lukewarm season at Real Madrid, causing some Vikings supporters to hold out hope for an Ancelotti return. Those hopes have now been dashed, as Ancelotti's next chapter will take him to Germany.
The Bayern Munich managerial shift isn't the only coaching shakeup going on in European football right now. The announcement that Guardiola would leave Allianz-Arena behind came just days after Chelsea sacked Jose Mourinho. The natural assumption is that Guardiola will move to Chelsea at the end of the season-a theory strengthened by the fact that Guus Hiddink has taken over at Stamford Bridge on a temporary, interim basis only.
Heading to England?
However, while most soccer pundits do believe that Guardiola will go to England now that he's found success in both Spain and Germany, Chelsea is not the only suitor. At this point, the Blues probably need Guardiola more than anyone else, having fallen from first place in the Premier League last season to the lower echelons of the table this fall.
However, Pep has also been linked to Manchester City, where he could take over for current manager Manuel Pellegrini. Pellegrini's contract was initially supposed to expire in summer 2016, but he signed an extension in August that will keep him with the football club until June 2017. It is worth noting, though, that Guardiola took a one-year sabbatical between his coaching stints at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and could do so again this time around. If so, the Sky Blues would be a natural choice and one that Pellegrini approves of: "I hope he will have the option to work at Manchester City," Pellegrini told the BBC, speaking of Pep. "I say that because I love this club, and I hope, in the future, he can work here also".
There is also a chance that Guardiola could move to Manchester United. Louis van Gaal is under tremendous pressure at Old Trafford, following a lukewarm autumn in the Premier League and an early elimination from the Champions League. Van Gaal's contract with the Red Devils runs through 2017, but if the Dutch manager doesn't turn things around soon, his club could be looking for a replacement come summertime.
Where will Pep Guardiola end up? Will he indeed make the move to England, or will he end up somewhere else, like Real Madrid? Follow Soccer Box on social media for the latest rumors and updates about the beloved Spanish manager's next move! You can find us on multiple social channels including Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.