Guardiola to leave Barcelona; Vilanova to replace

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Vilanova has been Guardiola’s assistant since the pair took over Barca B in 2007-08, earning the team promotion to the second division.

“I think the club is right (on Tito). He is more than qualified, and the players know him. He will change very little of what we do, and he will give a lot to the players and club,” Guardiola said. “I can’t fool myself that I have the same energy as before.”

The 42-year-old Vilanova, a Barcelona youth player who never played for senior club, missed several weeks last fall following surgery on a salivary gland.

“Why Tito?” Barcelona sport director Andoni Zubizarreta said. “Because he represents the game, the analysis, the preparation. He puts the extra hour into preparation. He has the capacity and the personality to be here because we know him. So we decided to look inside our house and it was easy.”

Guardiola did not reveal his plans for the future except for saying he would like to return to coaching again sooner rather than later.

Specifically, Guardiola denied having had contact with Chelsea.

“No. It would be disrespectful to the club. I haven’t met with anyone,” he said. “Now I need to rest and look at it from outside. Life will take me where it wants to go.”

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AP Sports Writer Paul Logothetis contributed to this report from Madrid.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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