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Xavi excited by prospect of Guardiola, Mourinho duel

Barcelona great Xavi is excited by the idea of Jose Mourinho renewing his rivalry with Pep Guardiola in the Premier League next season should the Portuguese be appointed as Manchester United boss.

It was confirmed this month that former Barca coach Guardiola is to leave his position at Bayern Munich to join Manchester City from next season, with ex-Chelsea and Real Madrid boss Mourinho strongly rumoured to be a target for their cross-city rivals.

Guardiola and Mourinho have had a fractious relationship over recent years – notably during their time in La Liga – and could pit their wits against one another again next term.

Xavi – a key part of Guardiola’s hugely successful four-year tenure at Camp Nou – says the Premier League and the wider football world could have cause for excitement.

“I have to confess something: Pep was here in Doha, during the Bundesliga’s winter break with Bayern, and he told me that he was going to the Premier League, to Manchester City,” the Al Sadd midfielder told Mundo Deportivo.

“He needed new challenges in his career as a coach, he’s had three years at Bayern and he needed to change. He’s always wanted to coach in the Premier League.

“I think [Mourinho to United] is very good for football. If they keep it in the usual channels it will be amazing for the Premier League, as it was in the time of Barca and Madrid until things got twisted to a level beyond football.

“Next year could be an amazing duel between Pep and Mourinho, if it’s confirmed that Jose is signing for United. It will be attractive.

“I’m convinced that City will do very well with Pep. Mourinho is a winner but with different types of approaches to
football, which they don’t share.”

United manager Louis van Gaal has regularly reacted badly to questions over his future amid suggestions Mourinho will be appointed a year before the Dutchman’s contract expires.

Xavi – handed his Barca debut by Van Gaal in 1998 – added: “I feel very bad for him. He’s an honest person and a great coach.

“He gets on badly with the press and that eventually grinds you down. And on top of that the results haven’t been coming, so you get the situation as it is at Manchester United.

“Sometimes we spoke with Luis Enrique about things that Louis van Gaal said or did and it seemed outrageous when we were players. But now we can see he was right, that he was ahead of the rest.”

Fri 12 Feb, 2016
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