Pep Guardiola has dismissed suggestions he is considering taking a break from football.
Reports have claimed the Manchester City manager could take a sabbatical if he guides his side to Champions League victory next year.
Guardiola has had an extended break before, enjoying a year off after leaving Barcelona before taking over at Bayern Munich in 2013.
Yet with two years remaining on his contract at Etihad Stadium, the 48-year-old insists such thoughts are not in his mind.
Speaking to media at a golf event in Spain, Guardiola said, in quotes carried by Marca: “No. I do not take sabbatical years. I am young and I have desire.
“The news comes out and many things are not true. If they do not kick me out, I’ll stay there.”
Guardiola also emphatically denied speculation linking him with Juventus last month.
City won an unprecedented treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup last season.
Their next challenge is to win the Champions League after defeats in the quarter-finals in the past two years.
Guardiola said: “We all want to win the Champions League because it is the most beautiful thing. The important thing is to try again and in our case we will do it again.
“If we fail, we will try again, as the important thing is to be there until the end.”
Following Real Madrid’s signing of Eden Hazard in a deal that could potentially cost £130 million, Guardiola also made an ironic comment about the perception City are viewed as the game’s big spenders.
“Real Madrid are signing good players, but only Manchester City spend money here,” he said.
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What the papers say
If he can lift the Champions League trophy next season, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is considering a sabbatical, the Daily Star reports. The Spaniard has signed a contract which will keep him at the Etihad until 2021, but the paper quotes an unnamed source saying the stresses of the job mean it is “inevitable he will have to take a step back”. City will reportedly target Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino if Guardiola goes.
Talks have reportedly begun between Chelsea and Derby manager Frank Lampard. The Daily Mail says Lampard may return to Stamford Bridge after just one year with the Rams, with Blues boss Maurizio Sarri apparently preparing to leave Chelsea for Juventus this week.
Manchester United have reportedly found a replacement for goalkeeper David De Gea, if the Spaniard leaves the club summer. The Independent says the Red Devils are looking at Ajax’s Andre Onana as their first choice, although Barcelona’s Jasper Cillesen has also been linked with a move to Old Trafford.
Arsenal have made contact over Roma star Lorenzo Pellegrini and could pay his £27million transfer fee in instalments, according to reports. The Daily Mirror says reports in Italy suggest Pellegrini’s agent has already fielded a call from the Gunners.
England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to extend his current deal at Liverpool until 2023, the Daily Mail says. His current deal will run out in three years, but he will agree to an additional one-year extension, the paper claims.
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Players to watch
Louie Barry: Barcelona are hoping to secure the services of the 15-year-old England Under-16 striker from West Brom, the Birmingham Mail reports.
Paul Pogba: Manchester United’s France striker is being closely courted by Real Madrid, according to Marca. The Spanish newspaper’s website says Real will do all they can to take Pogba from Old Trafford this summer.
Rio Ferdinand believes Frank Lampard would be the perfect choice to manage Chelsea if current boss Maurizio Sarri departs this summer.
Sarri has been tipped to fill the vacant managerial role at Juventus with his Stamford Bridge future in doubt.
The former Napoli coach only took charge of the Blues last summer and secured the Europa League title, a third-place Premier League finish and reached the Carabao Cup final.
Despite that, he sometimes felt the wrath of fans for his approach and is now reportedly being lined up to succeed Massimiliano Allegri at Juventus.
Lampard, Chelsea’s record goalscorer and someone who won 11 major honours during a 13-year spell in west London, spent last season in charge of Sky Bet Championship side Derby.
He guided the club to the play-off final where the Rams lost to Aston Villa but has been heavily linked with a swift return to Chelsea,
“I think he has done a good job,” said Lampard’s former West Ham team-mate Ferdinand.
“He has lowered the playing age at Derby – his remit before the season would have been around that.
“He hit all the nails on the head in that regard. But more than that the way Frank has conducted himself has been exemplary, especially in the situation with the Leeds manager (Marcelo Bielsa, during the ‘Spygate’ scandal), he handled that very well.
“He is the perfect choice. People talk about experience and what-not but what experience did Pep (Guardiola) have when he went into Barcelona’s first team? He trained the younger kids at the club.
“Frank knows the club and he knows the players and the players will respect him. You can see he can carry himself in a particular way in front of the media and in the football club and he can change things within a season.
“We have seen that at Derby. I know it’s a smaller club but we have seen him do it. I don’t think he would go in there and be phased by big personalities in that changing room.”
Chelsea have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to have a transfer ban overturned.
But the club have not asked for the two-year ban, imposed on the club by FIFA after allegations Chelsea broke regulations over signing young players, to be frozen.
That means they may not be able to bring in any new signings this summer, having already sold talisman Eden Hazard to Real Madrid.
If that proves to be the case, Ferdinand feels that only improves Lampard’s chances of landing the job.
“If Chelsea are going to get a ban transfer-wise I don’t think they can look anywhere but Frank if I’m honest.
“Because he and Jody (Morris, Derby assistant manager) they know all the kids from 16 upwards. They know what they can all do.
“Chelsea have had the best young kids in the country for a while now – Man City are coming around that but for the good years they have had the best kids and none of them get in the first team.
“As a football club, you would think they would like to change that. If they want to change that there is no one but Frank.
“(Do you) keep blowing money away with these managers who you have to pay up after two years? Or are you gonna go with someone who the fans are going to love to have back?
“Someone who the young players are going to say ‘oh my god, Frank is going to play us.’ At a time when managers are scared and under pressure not to play kids, I think it will be refreshing.”
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