Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich agree to deal

Former Barcelona coach will replace Jupp Heynckes, who is set to retire at end of season

MUNICH — Pep Guardiola, who led Barcelona to 14 titles over four seasons and turned the Spanish club into arguably the best team in the world, has agreed to become the coach of Bayern Munich starting next season.

Bayern announced the deal Wednesday, after a meeting of the top management.

Earlier in the day, Jupp Heynckes told Bayern he wanted to end his coaching career when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Rumors of Guardiola coming to the German powerhouse have been swirling around local media for weeks and Bayern made it official just a day after Guardiola expressed his desire to manage in England at some point.

Guardiola’s arrival is a major coup for Bayern.

“You have to say, hat off,” former Bayern star and president Franz Beckenbauer said.

“Matthias Sammer and Guardiola - I don’t know where you can find a better partnership,” Beckenbauer told Sky television, referring to Bayern’s director of sport.

Guardiola, who turns 42 on Friday, stepped down at the end of last season and is on a one-year sabbatical.

Under his guidance, Barcelona dominated Spanish and European competitions with its passing game and frequent scoring from standout Lionel Messi.

Barcelona won the Champions League twice during Guardiola’s tenure, in 2009 and 2011, and captured three Spanish championships and two cup titles.

“We are very pleased that we managed to win the football expert Pep Guardiola for Bayern Munich although he had been contacted and sought by many famous clubs,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world and we are certain that he can give a lot of luster not only to Bayern but also to German football.”

Guardiola, a former Barcelona midfielder who has never coached outside Barcelona, comes to the most scrutinized club in Germany. Bayern’s top management is staffed by some of Germany’s biggest past stars, with no small egos.

Bayern is Germany’s biggest club, with 21 Bundesliga titles and one championship before World War II.

Bayern President Uli Hoeness said only a coach of Guardiola’s caliber could be an adequate replacement for Heynckes, who will be 68 when he retires.

Bayern lost the Champions League final last season to Chelsea and has failed to win a trophy in the past two seasons.

But it has a large lead in the Bundesliga this season, which resumes this weekend. Bayern is nine points ahead of Bayer Leverkusen. Bayern also is in the knockout stage of the Champions League, with Arsenal its next opponent.

In the German Cup, Bayern faces Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Dortmund has won the last two championships and took the double last season.

Heynckes praised his own team in glowing terms last week.

“Bayern has never played such a modern, attractive and contemporary football in its history,” Heynckes said.

In Bayern, Guardiola will find Spanish compatriot Javi Martinez, whose transfer was worth $53 million. The club’s biggest stars are Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Gomez.

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

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