Pep Guardiola walks, Xabi Alonso agreement – Man City sent warning after contract promise

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Chairman of Manchester City, and Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City, watch on following the team's victory in the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on May 19, 2024
Man City sent Guardiola warning after contract claim -Credit:Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester City have been urged to 'savour every moment', with Pep Guardiola suddenly facing an uncertain future at the Etihad Stadium. After leading his side to a fourth successive Premier League title on Sunday afternoon, the 53-year-old claimed that he's 'closer to leaving than staying'.

After eight sparkling years at City, Guardiola sees his contract expire at the end of next season. Speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon, the Spaniard insisted that he intends to honour his deal with the club.

But, in light on Jurgen Klopp's emotional departure from Liverpool, Guardiola was quizzed on his future. In an interview with Sky Sports following the West Ham clash that secured the title, he said: "The reality is I am closer to leaving than staying.

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"It's eight years, will be nine. Right now, my feeling is I am staying next season. We talk with the club, we have time to talk next season because I have to see the players as well. If they follow me, they follow us... for many reasons. I will stay. During the season we will talk."

While Guardiola has cast doubt over his stay at the Etihad Stadium, it remains to be seen whether or not his comments were just misconstrued. So, with that being said, journalists at the Manchester Evening News have given their thoughts.

Simon Bajkowski

Some of Guardiola's comments sounded more dramatic than they actually were after the title win, coming from a man who has been most emphatic about his future when defending the club about the Premier League charges.

He sounded tired as he spoke about being tired this season after Istanbul, forcing himself to build himself and team back up to go again. Yet he has still had the magic touch this season, spotting problems before anyone else and before they can cause too much damage.

It has been a long slog of the season and it is normal after such an historic achievement to wonder how it can be topped and if it is worth the energy to try – even if it is less normal to admit it to us; Arsenal will be even better next year as the Premier League will not get any easier despite Jurgen Klopp's departure from Liverpool.

Guardiola will not want to do anything half-heartedly and would rather step aside than do anything less than a good job. However, he has never broken a contract in his life and spoke in his press conference about finding motivation next season when he comes back together with the players.

Stretching his tenure to ten years may be hope rather than reality for fans, but nine looks an absolute banker.

Tyrone Marshall

It has felt like Guardiola has been on a bit of a victory lap since City won the Champions League but the intensity and the motivation hasn’t dropped. In Saudi Arabia, when he started talking about 'closing the chapter' and 'we won all the titles, there’s nothing else to win', saying the 'job is done, it’s over' after winning the Club World Cup I thought he was about to announce his exit there and then.

So I wouldn’t read too much into his comments after another slice of history was secured on Sunday. I would be very surprised if Guardiola wasn’t still here in August targeting a fifth league title in a row.

It was interesting to hear him get emotional about Jurgen Klopp’s departure, however, and he has clearly accepted the end is coming. Talking of feeling tired suggests the end is nigh.

City fans might be advised to savour every moment of next season because at the moment, it feels an awful lot like it might be the last that Guardiola spends at the Etihad.

Joe Bray

We thought Pep had made his future clear on Friday, saying he has a year left on his contract and he has no plans to leave beforehand. Then he says some mysterious comments on the pitch at the Etihad and suddenly he's thinking about leaving.

Not quite. I read his comments yesterday as he is thinking more about leaving next summer than extending, and he will talk to the club midway through the season to decide the best course of action.

His clarification in the press conference at the Etihad suggested he still plans to stay next season but needs to discover a new motivation after following a treble with a fourth title in a row (and maybe a double double).

Guardiola was emotional on Sunday evening. He teared up speaking about Jurgen Klopp, and he had been on the edge all game against West Ham, barking instructions until the 94th minute and not daring to celebrate a title until a minute before the whistle.

Then he goes through the emotional highs of lifting the trophy, celebrating, conducting a million interviews and then having to speak to us journalists again. I suspect Guardiola will offer a clearer assessment on Friday when he speaks to the media ahead of the FA Cup final.

He has always said he intends to honour his contracts, and has stayed longer at City than anywhere else. He may look at Jurgen Klopp leaving on his own terms and be a little envious of his rival exiting the rat race.

But he also admitted that he considered his role after the Champions League final (in respect of his motivations for the following season) and now again this weekend. Give him a summer to reflect, take some time off, and you can expect he'll come back fully firing whatever he decides to do after the summer of 2025.

And that's before we mention those pesky charges... He's said he'll stay whatever division City are in during his contract, but could the prospect of that verdict tempt him to walk away at a convenient time with his legacy firmly intact?

Jake Stokes

It certainly feels like Guardiola's time at Manchester City is coming to a natural end – and that's okay. The 53-year-old previously penned an extension in November 2022, but I just can't see him signing a new contract which keeps at the Etihad Stadium beyond next season.

Since bursting onto the scene as the Barcelona B manager in July 2007, Guardiola has rarely had a break. He left the Camp Nou in 2012 before returning to management 12-months later, taking the reins at Bayern Munich in 2013.

So, once his deal with Manchester City expires, I reckon he'll take a year or two out before embarking on his next challenge – which I think will be in France or Italy. He deserves to put his feet up!

Nevertheless, this should give the club sufficient time to find a worthy replacement. My personal favourites for the head coach role are Xabi Alonso, Simone Inzaghi and Thiago Motta.

With that being said though, Manchester City could be forced to make a decision sooner rather than later. If the club are found guilty of those infamous charges, I think Guardiola walks. And I wouldn't blame him either.

Stephen Killen

There comes a time where you reach your ceiling and at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola has done just that. Back when I was younger, I used to play Football Manager - I wasn't very good - so I used to do what I could to be the best in-game, once quintuples were achieved, the fun stopped. You can argue that Guardiola must feel the same way.

The Spaniard is the best manager in the world right now and there are valid arguments to thrust him in the conversation with the greatest ever. Behind the quirky, steely character, is a hard-working and ruthless tactician - like we've seen with Jurgen Klopp - that can take its toll.

With his trophy cabinet packed to the rafters, notwithstanding the honours that he has managed in Manchester alone, what else is there to achieve now? Win every competition possible next season? Win the Champions League and Club World Cup in their new formats? It's anyone's guess.

Everything comes to an end, as the cliche goes, and eventually, Guardiola was going to move on. The motivation now must be go out on the highest high possible but future-proof City to avoid falling into the trap that Arsenal did post-Wenger and Manchester United following Sir Alex Ferguson's departure.

Josh Holland

Becoming the first manager to win four straight Premier League titles is another milestone in Pep Guardiola's elite time in Manchester. However, this year's title win does feel slightly different.

After the pressure of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool for years, Arsenal and Mikel Arteta have provided the heat over the last 24 months. Guardiola has done rather well in fending off competition and has deflected any questions regarding the club's 115 breached charges.

What next for him? Well we know he will be at City for another season and in a dream world, another crack at the league and UEFA Champions League would be perfect.

But everything does come to an end and after Klopp's emotional goodbye at Liverpool over the weekend, City fans will be preparing for the day their best ever manager calls it a day.

Tom Coley

History maker, all-time great, serial winner. Guardiola is unmatched in the modern era of football in many ways. As an entertainer, as a tactician, a driver of stylistic football. The Premier League may not be a more competitive place with him around but it very much might be a better one.

Perhaps now his true journey is at an end. What else can he do? Leaving the league now will open it up to other sides, which certainly has a draw, but there will always be a bit of Guardiola in it, with the way teams play their football.

None of this is likely to influence his decision. It's not necessarily a motivation issue because if something is there then the level of motivation needed just goes up, there's always something else to get motivated for, but maybe just the energy levels in general have gone.

Whatever happens it needs to be dictated ahead of time. City planned years in the making for Guardiola and were able to slot him in perfectly. He will be only to aware of this whilst conversations over his contract go on. Guardiola continuing past 2025? I'm not so sure. His legacy will be here forever though.

Isaac Seelochan

Pep has always demanded huge intensity from his teams and himself to stay on top and that must be draining. City is the perfect club for him in many ways but his energy levels must be depleting after eight years.

Don't be surprised if we see a Klopp-like announcement from Pep sometime next season and I suspect it would be for similar reasons - fatigue. There is no doubt that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager is telling the truth. His time at the Etihad is closer to the end rather than the beginning.

Becoming the first English team to win a quadruple or a second treble are all achievements which are likely to motivate Guardiola further. The 2024/25 campaign is likely to be another season of silverware success for City and ending his time in Manchester with more history would be the perfect way to bow out.