Jurgen Klopp contract extension could offer Pep Guardiola new lease of Manchester City life
With Jurgen Klopp having committed his future to Liverpool until 2026, what could this move mean for Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola?
Moments after the two had overseen a Premier League battle for the ages, both Guardiola and Klopp embraced each other with an emotional handshake and a hug.
Guardiola, acting with the over-zealous nature of a father at his child’s birthday party, with Klopp willing to welcome the Catalan into his arms. Two of the greats, hand in hand, by each other’s side.
This embrace wasn’t the first time they’d shared emotion on the touchline. The two have been inseparable during the last decade, with the pair’s careers punctuated by the other’s presence.
Already established as a manager in Germany when the ex-Barcelona boss arrived at Bayern Munich in 2013, Klopp left Borussia Dortmund and the Bundesliga behind in 2015, with Guardiola following suit one year later.
While for Klopp it may feel like Pep’s shadow has followed his every move, the truth is, the pair have manufactured intense rivalries wherever they’ve come head-to-head, and to their own admission, improved each other’s coaching credentials at the same time.
As for the Premier League, the jury is out on which manager has enjoyed the better time of it so far. From a success point of view, City’s Guardiola reigns supreme, having guided the Blues to three titles since arriving in East Manchester six seasons ago.
For Klopp and Liverpool, their solitary title to date came in the disrupted 2019/20 campaign, when the Merseyside outfit finished top of the table on 99 points – the second-highest points total in Premier League history.
Of course, as has been the case at various other points of Klopp’s career, Guardiola was able to go one better than the German, in this situation, quite literally one point better.
City’s total of 100 points in the 2017/18 season remains the only time in Premier League history a club has finished the campaign in triple figures.
Two incredible tallies, from two incredible teams, yet they don’t tell the entire story. Of the top five highest points totals in Premier League history, City and Liverpool hold an unruly four, with the only other entry in that list being Chelsea’s tally of 95 in 2004/05.
In comparison, the likes of Manchester United’s best-ever Premier League campaign harboured 92 points, whereas Arsenal broke into the 90 point barrier just once, scoring that number during their invincible season of 2003/04.
Unlike Guardiola’s only other comparable managerial bout, the battle with Klopp has so far remained an on-the-pitch affair, as opposed to the spikey relationship he endured with ex-Real Madrid boss José Mourinho while in charge of Barcelona.
It’s clear, Guardiola, with regular input from Klopp, have rewritten the Premier League’s history books. Yet, the understanding was the latest chapter in the rivalry was approaching its final paragraph.
Before agreeing to an extension with Liverpool, Klopp’s contract was due to expire in the summer of 2024, whereas Guardiola’s current deal with City is set to run until the end of the 2022/23 season.
While Guardiola has repeatedly refused to answer questions on his future, there have been hints from the Catalan coach that an extended stay in Manchester could be on the cards.
Having already surpassed his longest stint at an individual club, Guardiola has found home in Manchester, while continuing to develop and achieve the unthinkable in charge of City.
Back-to-back Champions League semi-finals for the first time in City’s history is just one example of how Guardiola has taken the club to an entirely new frontier.
What’s more, the actions taken by City as a club over the last six months point towards life with Guardiola beyond his current 2023 departure date.
A flurry of contract extensions to key players, like João Cancelo, Ederson and Cole Palmer, suggests the former Bayern manager remains committed to the City project.
And then there are the potential incomings. Already confirmed as an arrival ahead of the 2022/23 season is Julian Alvarez, a dynamic attacker arriving from Argentine club River Plate, as City look to address their issues up front.
Add into the mix the rumoured move for Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, one of world football’s most sought after young talents, and it’s difficult to envisage a world where Guardiola doesn’t remain in charge of City after next season.
Granted, until the i's are dotted and t's crossed on a new contract for Guardiola, there is every chance he leaves City behind and embarks on his next managerial adventure.
But while clubs across the division and Europe may have shivered at the thought of Klopp sticking around on Merseyside for the next half-decade, for Guardiola, it’s hard to imagine that being the case.
A man who has relished competition throughout his managerial career, the prospect of squaring off against the Auld Enemy in Klopp for the another few seasons at least, maybe too difficult for Guardiola to walk away from.
Written by: @AmosMurphy_