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    Man City eye “exceptional” manager as Guardiola successor, Pep loves him

    Manchester City have already identified their no.1 target to replace Pep Guardiola next summer as speculation continues around his future, it has been reported.

    Pep’s swansong season?

    Recent claims have suggested that this season could finally be Pep Guardiola’s final campaign in charge of Manchester City.

    After a fourth successive Premier League title win, the former Barcelona coach is down to the final twelve months of his contract at the Etihad Stadium. The Daily Mail claim that the 52-year-old is “expected to call time” on his spell in Manchester and that “multiple sources within the industry and City have openly discussed the prospect of an impending departure over recent months”.

    Asked himself, Guardiola admitted that “the reality is I am closer to leaving than staying [after next season]”, but stressed that next season could change his mind.

    It would bring to an end a reign of unprecedented dominance of English football, even if there remain around 115 question marks about just how it came about. What cannot be doubted is the quality of football on display, which has elevated the Cityzens from challengers to true European elite.

    NFL Betting

    Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City record

    Games

    472

    Wins

    349

    Win %

    74%

    Premier League titles

    4

    FA Cups

    2

    League Cups

    6

    Champions League titles

    1

    But his departure could allow City to swoop for another highly regarded coach.

    Alonso the top target for City

    Now, it has emerged that Man City have already identified their no.1 option to replace Guardiola, in the form of in-demand manager Xabi Alonso. The Spaniard has enjoyed an unprecedented season with Bayer Leverkusen, leading them to an unbeaten domestic double and only tasting defeat in the UEFA Europa League final, where his side were beaten 3-0 by Atalanta.

    And Football Transfers report that City are “poised to make a move” for Alonso if Guardiola departs, as the “hierarchy unanimously agrees” he is the only candidate worth pursuing at present. He certainly already has a fan in the form of Guardiola himself, who sung Alonso’s praises earlier in the year.

    ‘If you ask me about the job he’s doing…honestly…wow!

    ‘The only team that’s unbeaten in all competitions, fighting in the way with Bayern Munich there. Now they are in the position that they cannot win the Bundesliga, they can lose the Bundesliga but everybody thinks it’s done. Now is the most difficult thing because it’s not done until it’s done.

    ‘But, wow! Not just the way they play, they didn’t lose one game in the Europa League, the Pokal in Germany, the Bundesliga.’

    He was not the only top level coach to be impressed, with Jurgen Klopp also hailing him as an “exceptional” manager: “The next generation is already here, and I would say Xabi is the standout of that generation.

    “The football his team is playing, how they position themselves, the signings he’s made… It’s absolutely exceptional.”

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    City are unlikely to be the only side courting the Spaniard. Both Bayern Munich and Liverpool were keen this summer before Alonso announced his decision to stay at Leverkusen, while Real Madrid are also among those keeping an eye on the former Los Blancos man. But if they were to land him, it could usher in another period of dominance for the Manchester outfit.

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