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Pep Guardiola plays cat and mouse with English Premier League clubs

updated 10:58 AM EST, Wed January 16, 2013
Pep Guardiola has been on a year-long sabbatical in the U.S. after stepping down as Barcelona coach, but he returned to Europe in January for the Ballon d'Or when he was shortlisted for FIFA's world coach of the year award. Pep Guardiola has been on a year-long sabbatical in the U.S. after stepping down as Barcelona coach, but he returned to Europe in January for the Ballon d'Or when he was shortlisted for FIFA's world coach of the year award.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola wants to coach in England "in the future"
  • Guardiola linked with a number of top European clubs
  • Joined Barca as a 13-year-old and won six La Liga titles and one European Cup

(CNN) -- Like a cat playing with a mouse, former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola teased his potential Premier League suitors on Wednesday by saying he wants to coach an English club "in the future".

The 41-year-old Guardiola stepped down as Barcelona coach at the end of last season after four years in charge of one of the world's biggest clubs to take a year-long sabbatical.

Even since, the Catalan has been linked with a number of English clubs -- notably Chelsea and Manchester City -- as well as a host of top European teams such as Bayern Munich in Germany and AC Milan in Italy.

"I've always found English football very fascinating, just for the environment, the crowd and the supporters," Guardiola told the English Football Association's website ahead of the FA's 150th anniversary.

"As a player, I couldn't realise my dream to play there but I hope in the future, I have a challenge to be a coach or a manager there and feel the experience of all the coaches and players that have been there.

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"It is unique, to play in that league. I want to feel the supporters, the environment, the media and the style of the players and everything.

"I am still young, just 41, so I hope in the future I could be able to train there and enjoy that."

Read: Real Madrid victory eases pressure on under-fire Mourinho

Guardiola's update on his future plans is likely to make uncomfortable reading for those coaches in charge of Europe's top teams, such as Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez and Bayern's 67-year-old coach Jupp Heynckes -- whose contract ends in June.

City boss Roberto Mancini's contract runs until 2017, though there has been speculation surrounding the Italian's future following the appointment of former Barcelona vice president Ferran Soriano as the English champions' chief executive, who took up his new role in September, and the arrival of former Barcelona technical director Txiki Begiristain as director of football at the Etihad Stadium in October.

Guardiola, who spoke to the FA from New York where he is currently living, joined Barcelona as a 13-year-old and won six La Liga titles and one European Cup as a player with the club.

He won that European Cup, now known as the Champions League, at Wembley as a 19-year-old when Barcelona beat Sampdoria, who Mancini was then playing for.

"I played there as a player when I was 19 and it was my first Champions League as a player, as Barcelona won finally the Champions League," added Guardiola. "It was a huge honor to play there at the old Wembley.

"When I was manager of Barcelona, for our second Champions League in three years in 2011, it was a real pleasure to play in the new Wembley.

Read: Reinventing the wheel: How Guardiola revolutionized football

"I'm a lucky guy, because I had the opportunity to play two finals, both in England at Wembley and that's why my relationship with England is pretty close.

"I would like to say congratulations and happy birthday for the 150 years to English soccer and all of the people around English football.

"Enjoy it, because you deserve that and you have been very important in the development of our beautiful, beautiful game."

As Barca coach, Guardiola presided over an unprecedented treble in his first season in charge, winning the European Champions League, La Liga and the Spanish Cup, having been promoted from his role as coach of the Catalan club's reserve side in May 2008.

In 2011 he won the Champions League again and also a third successive Spanish title, followed by success at the Club World Cup for a second time, winning a total of 13 trophies during his tenure.

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