Outgoing Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has denied having any contact with Chelsea, insisting it would have shown "disrespect" to his employers if he had done so.
Guardiola has confirmed he will leave Barca at the end of the season after an incredibly successful four years in charge, with his assistant Tito Vilanova already announced as his successor. Guardiola insists he now plans to take a break from the game, but speculation persists that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich might try to tempt him to reconsider.
Spanish sports daily AS reported a meeting between Guardiola and Abramovich had taken place in Paris in February, but when he was asked whether that was the case, Guardiola replied: "No. That would have been disrespectful towards the club."
Abramovich is a known admirer of Barcelona's attractive possession game and the Blues are still to confirm a permanent successor to Andre Villas-Boas, although Roberto Di Matteo has impressed in an interim capacity, leading Chelsea to the Champions League final after seeing off Barca in the semis, as well as guiding them to the FA Cup final.
Guardiola explained the fear of burn-out was behind his decision to walk and revealed he would now be taking time away from the pressures of coaching.
"I would like you to understand that this is not an easy decision for me. But I would like to explain my reasons for this decision," he said.
"I have always wanted short-term contracts. Four years is an eternity as Barca coach. In the month of October I announced to the president and to the sporting director that I thought my spell was coming to an end.
"I have given everything and I have nothing left and need to recharge my batteries.
"The demands have been great and I have not been able to rest much. I have to recover and the only way I can do that is by distancing myself. Otherwise, we would have ended up damaging each other.
"I know that I'm leaving the best place to work in. I am very satisfied with the results we have achieved. I have had the great privilege of coaching fantastic players. I want to thank them. I don't know what I will do now but I will not go straight to coaching."