Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola has admitted his time at the treble-winning club could be ‘coming to an end’.
Guardiola told Italian television station RAI he would not continue on at the club after his contract expires, meaning next season at the Nou Camp would be his last.
“I think my time here at Barcelona is coming to an end,” he said. “I’m happy here but when you are at a club like this for a long time it’s not possible to stay long-term.”
“Next year will be my fourth consecutive as Barca coach. A club like
this must have a lot of courage to keep a coach for all this time
because players tire of coaches and vice versa.”
In just over two-and-a-half seasons, the former Barcelona, Roma and Brescia player has won eight trophies as manager the Catalan club.
The 2008/09 campaign – his first at the Nou Camp – brought a record six titles.
Last season, he led Barca to a second-straight La Liga title with 99 points.
On Friday, Guardiola also responded to controversial comments made by the club’s president, Sandro Rosell.
Rosell declared Barca would beat Real 5-0 in the final of the Copa Del Rey on April 20 – the same score when the two met for a league encounter at the Nou Camp earlier this season.
“I wouldn’t have said it, but everyone is free to express their opinions,” he said.
“Everybody is free to express their opinion. I think that the meaning of it is a rallying cry, knowing that the bigger the result, the better people would feel. That seems to have been the intention.”
Guardiola also said he will leave it until the last minute to decide whether Lionel Messi will play this weekend.
The talismanic forward, whose loss would be a major blow ahead of the clash with third-placed Villarreal on Saturday, missed Argentina’s friendly against Costa Rica on Tuesday as a precaution, though tests showed no muscle injury.
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, too, has injury concerns to contend with as Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Marcelo are all out of Real Madrid’s La Liga match with Sporting Gijon on Saturday.
Real will be without the trio for Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final against Tottenham, although they will welcome back key striker Gonzalo Higuain after a five-month layoff following back surgery.
“It is a positive surprise,” Mourinho said.
“A lot of times you get negative surprises, about players who aren’t recovering as quickly as expected. It is nice to have positive news.”
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