Record-breaking coach Josep Guardiola has agreed to continue on the bench of world champions Barcelona, thus ending months of speculation about his future.
The contract of Guardiola was due to expire in June, but he announced on Wednesday that an agreement has been reached with the club to extend it until June 2011, with an option for a further extension until 2012.
The announcement was made at a packed press conference at Barca’s Camp Nou stadium.
Club president Joan Laporta opened the conference by saying that “this is good news because we all wanted Guardiola to continue...He is the best coach in the world and it is a source of pride to continue with him here.” Laporta was keen to tie up Guardiola’s contract extension before stepping down this summer, at the end of his second four-year term.
Last week, Laporta publicly asked Guardiola to decide by Easter.
All of the possible candidates for the club’s presidential elections — the date for which Laporta still has to set — are in agreement with Guardiola continuing on the bench.
In addition, all the players want him to stay on, as playmaker Xavi made clear on Tuesday when he said that “I cannot imagine Barca without Guardiola as coach.” Guardiola said at the press conference that “I know that sooner or later I will cease to be the coach of Barca and I want to enjoy to the maximum the time that I am here.” He then made it clear that the unanimous support of the directors, players and fans had been a major factor in his decision to stay on.
Guardiola said: “I don’t want to be here because of what we have achieved but because everyone is in agreement with my work.” Txiki Begiristain, Barca’s technical secretary, then said that the club had wanted Guardiola to extend his contract for more than a year, “but one thing is what the club wants and another thing what the coach wants.” Guardiola’s salary will be increased, although the financial details of the new deal have not been released by the club.