Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd on alert as Guardiola nears return

Three Premier League clubs – champions Manchester City, league leaders Manchester United and Champions League holders Chelsea – are ready to do battle to win the services of former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, the Daily Mirror claims, after Guardiola announced he was ready to end his sabbatical and return to football.

Guardiola left Barcelona at the end of last season, citing burnout, and moved to New York with his family to spend a year out of the game. It had been reported via sources close to the Catalan that Guardiola would decide by February 2013 if he wanted to return to football, with the man himself now confirming that he would like to be involved in the game again, although Guardiola stressed he did not have a position lined up at any club.

He said: “I would like to come back to coaching. I have been out for a year and it’s what I would like but there is no reason to give any more specific details. I don’t have a team to go to but I would like to go back to coaching. I have taken a decision to return but beyond that no decision has been taken.

Guardiola’s decision is likely to attract attention from across the football world but particularly in England, where three of the country’s top clubs could soon be on the lookout for a new boss.

Chelsea are longstanding admirers of Guardiola and owner Roman Abramovich has tried more than once to bring the former midfielder to Stamford Bridge, with current manager Rafael Benitez only employed on an interim basis.

At Manchester United, a replacement for Sir Alex Ferguson will eventually be needed and he and Guardiola are on friendly terms, with the two meeting in New York in December 2012.

Across the city, the position of Roberto Mancini at Manchester City is said to be insecure, with the club’s early exit from the Champions League and the presence of a number of former Barcelona executives – including those who appointed Guardiola at Camp Nou in the first place – combining to push the Etihad Stadium side to the front of the queue for Guardiola’s signature.

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