• Keir Aberdein-Evans

Juanma Lillo departs for Al-Sadd SC with Manchester City eyeing Enzo Maresca as his replacement

Manchester City have announced that Pep Guardiola’s assistant Juanma Lillo will be leaving the Premier League champions to join Al-Sadd Sports Club as head coach.

 

First revealed by Aritz Gabilondo of Diario AS on Thursday night, it has now been confirmed that Lillo, who replaced Mikel Arteta in June 2020, will be heading to the Qatari top division champions.


Lillo has had a successful time at City, helping the Blues to back-to-back Premier League titles as well as a Carabao Cup triumph, and has been credited as a calming presence for Guardiola, particularly during the turbulent start to the 2020/21 season.

Photo courtesy of Dave Thompson - Pool/Getty Images

The Catalan’s right-hand man had a few words of reflection over his time at the club:

"My time at Manchester City has been one of the most enjoyable periods of my career. To work alongside Pep, his backroom staff and this group of players has been a pleasure and I hope to have contributed in a small way to the fantastic success we have enjoyed on the pitch. I wish the club the very best and hope they can achieve all of their ambitions moving forwards."

City Director of Football Txiki Begiristain said:

"Juanma has been an integral part of a team that has won back-to-back Premier League titles. His dedication, passion and desire to improve our squad have been evident from our results on the pitch throughout his time at the club. It has been a pleasure working with Juanma over the last two seasons and everybody at Manchester City wishes him well in his new venture."

Assistant coaches have always seemed important to Guardiola during his reign at City, so one would imagine he will be searching for a replacement immediately.


Pol Ballus and Omar Garrick in The Athletic report that Enzo Maresca is under consideration for the role; the Italian enjoyed a successful stint as the club's Elite Development Squad head coach leading the academy to their first-ever Premier League 2 title last year.


Maresca left City for Parma in Serie B that summer but was dismissed by the club in November after an underwhelming start to the season and could now return to England to fill the assistant manager role vacated by Lillo.

Photo courtesy of Naomi Baker/Getty Images
 

Written by: @keirmcfc


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