It's been a sensational four seasons, but Pep Guardiola now appears on the brink of quitting last year's Champions League winners Barcelona.
Idolised as a player and now as a manager in Catalonia, the 41-year-old has guided Barca to three La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues, two Club World Cups and one Copa del Rey during his tenure as manager. The Blaugrana also face Athletic Bilbao in this term's King's Cup on 25 May.
However the politics which go hand-in-hand with managing one of the world's biggest and greatest clubs appear to have taken their toll on the former Spain international, who will hold a press conference today to clarify his future.
Guardiola has operated on a year-by-year basis as coach of his boyhood club, usually extending his stay for the following season around February/March time.
But his failure to do so yet this campaign has fuelled speculation he will not be Barca coach for 2012/13
The Guardian's man in Spain, Sid Lowe, reported Guardiola had a three-hour meeting with the club's president, Sandro Rosell, and the sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta, as well as his agent José María Orobitg, on Wednesday morning to discuss his future.
Tellingly also, for a man who has lost just two clasicos in four seasons, Guardiola's assertion he had not enjoyed the Real-Barca battles was another hint at his willingness to leave the club.
When Barca won the Club World Cup in 2009 - completing a sextet of trophies that calendar year - he broke down on the Abu Dhabi pitch, overwhelmed with, and overcome by, his achievements as a top-flight manager in under 18 months.
That display of emotion, retrospectively, would further suggest how unlikely it was Guardiola would remain at the club whom he played for for 11 years.
Neither he nor Barca have confirmed his departure just yet, but that hasn't stopped Her Majesty's press from speculating on where Pep's next destination lies.
Last week Guardiola labelled the prospect of him managing Chelsea as a "fantasy", and given he is looking careworn enough managing one of the most successful clubs in recent times, giving Stamford Bridge a swerve would be prudent.
However money talks, and just a day after Roberto di Matteo purportedly emerged as favourite for the Blues role on a full-time basis, today's Daily Mirror say Roman Abramovich will attempt to persuade the possibly available Guardiola to put any sabbatical on hold.
He will return to management, and his impeccable English makes the Premier League a probable destination, especially since many top clubs' long-term management is in doubt for one reason or another.
In the meantime though he deserves to be remembered, at the tender age of 41, as a managerial great, irrespective of how brief his stint at Barca may turn out to be. A guard of honour Guardiola is the least he should be afforded.
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