By Chukwuka Joseph (AGENDAWATCHDOG) – Pep Guardiola committed himself to turning a new generation into title-winners at Manchester City after signing a two-year contract extension on Thursday, prolonging his stay at the English club to a seventh season.
The storied Spanish coach is in his fifth season at City — longer than he stayed at Barcelona (four) and Bayern Munich (three) — and has won two Premier League titles, the last three English League Cup titles, and the FA Cup once.
However, most of the players who helped make City a force in the English and European game over the past decade have left — notably Joe Hart, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and most recently David Silva — and striker Sergio Aguero could be next to depart at the end of this season.
The next generation is being led by the likes of 20-year-old forwards Phil Foden and Ferran Torres, 23-year-old center back Ruben Dias and striker Gabriel Jesus, also 23 and likely to be the long-term replacement for Aguero.
And these young players could yet have the ultimate icon to lead them on a new charge for trophies, with Guardiola’s continued presence opening the possibility of him being reunited with Lionel Messi for next season should City attempt to sign the Argentina star when his contract at Barcelona expires in June.
City was heavily linked with Messi before he chose to stay at Barcelona in September despite putting in a transfer request. It is the first time Guardiola has chosen to build a second title-winning team at a club.
Guardiola, who has a win rate of 73.87% since joining City, said this season he would only extend his contract beyond next year if his team’s performances justified it after losing the title to Liverpool last season.
City is in 10th place in the Premier League after winning three of its seven games. However, the team has played a game fewer than most of its rivals. “The challenge for us is to continue improving and evolving,” Guardiola said, “and I am very excited about helping Manchester City do that.”
The rebuilding job might not come cheap for Guardiola but he has been backed in the transfer market by the Abu Dhabi-owned club since his arrival in 2016. About $480 million has been spent on defenders alone in that period.