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‘Guardiola was not close to leaving’

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was “not close at all” to leaving the Premier League club, says BBC Radio 5 Live’s Guillem Balague.

City announced on Thursday that the Spaniard has signed a two-year contract extension through to 2023.

They have won six major honours since the ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach, 49, took charge in 2016.

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“There were offers from Juventus, Paris St-Germain and others, but he’s happy,” Spanish football writer Balague said.

“He’s enjoying himself, he’s surrounded by people he trusts, he controls the sporting decisions and is happy that nothing that happens in the changing room comes out, which used to happen at Bayern and Barcelona.”

After surrendering the league title to Liverpool last season and failing to reach the Champions League semi-finals for a fourth straight year, Guardiola entered the final year of his contract with City.

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He was linked with a return to the Nou Camp after presidential candidate Victor Font said last month he would be keen to bring him back but Guardiola said his time as Barca coach was “over”.

“We all knew that Manchester City had put a deal on the table – the length of it we did not know – and City were not going to put any kind of pressure on him,” Balague added.

“In the last couple of months, there have been stories about unrest in the camp, players’ agents knocking on doors to see what’s going on, just because they didn’t know if Guardiola was going to stay on.

“But the decision-makers at Manchester City have been very confident. The transition that started this summer – into a Manchester City version two, with Guardiola – will continue next summer as well.

“Most of the transition is done, but there is more to do. He feels there is room for improvement and it needed him in charge of it.”

Guardiola won nine major honours in four years as Barcelona coach and, after a year’s sabbatical, spent three years at Bayern Munich from 2013.

“At Barcelona there was so much tension that the last year [2011-12] was very difficult for him,” Balague said.—BBC

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