In the wake of Manchester City’s two-year Champions League ban, social media was rife with rumours and comments regarding manager Pep Guardiola’s future on Friday.
Manchester City have already worked to stem the tide of Guardiola and top players leaving but things may be out of the club’s hands. There are now links to manager Mauricio Pochettino Brendan Rodgers have been made if the Spaniard leaves.
Most football viewers would expect Guardiola to leave for Barcelona if the Court of Arbitration for Sport holds up UEFA’s two-year ban ruling. The Blaugrana are in crisis with Lionel Messi getting older and transfers not working out. The club sacked Ernesto Valverde earlier this season and have put their trust in Quique Setien though the same problems persist at Camp Nou.
Although Barcelona have stated previously that they would love to have Guardiola return to the Camp Nou, going back may not be on the cards.
In a soap opera-like twist, Barcelona have denied paying social media influencers to besmirk the names of Guardiola and Messi. According to Cadena Ser, by way of Goal.com, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has defended himself against reports that he paid a group known as 13 Vultures to attack both the manager and player on social media. It is believed the attacks would improve the images of Bartomeu and his board.
The attacks also targeted club legends Carlos Puyol and Xavi. Gerard Pique was also a target of social media attacks.
The issue throws Guardiola’s potential return to Barcelona into question. Although Bartomeu is to step down from his post and will not seek another term as president.
Guardiola’s greatest successes came at Barcelona. He was able to catch lightning in a bottle with the Blaugrana and a much younger Lionel Messi. Guardiola also had a golden generation of players with Xavi and Andres Iniesta that had come through the club under his predecessor Frank Rijkaard.
Since leaving Barcelona, Guardiola has won league trophies and domestic cups but failed to win the Champions League with both Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Both clubs offered Guardiola the chance to manage top players and have the supporter of vast sums of money for transfers.
It is the large sums of transfer money at Manchester City that could ultimately end his time at the Etihad Stadium. If he does leave, he should have plenty of suitors around the globe baying for his services.