Pep Guardiola and Chelsea - the partnership that just never quite happened

16 April 2021 04:45

We can all sit and reminisce over 'the one that got away' - everyone's got one so don't try to deny it.

Well, apparently Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich spends his spare time daydreaming about running through a field of barley in slow motion and prancing into the arms of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

We've obviously made that up, but you'll see where we're going with it.

Roman Abramovich has wanted to bring Pep Guardiola to Chelsea for years | Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

The Athletic have revealed the Blues owner has been an admirer of the Catalan coach ever since his early days as manager of Barcelona and that he's longed for Guardiola to bring his free-flowing, expansive style of play to Stamford Bridge.

Abramovich has made numerous advances towards the former Barça boss over the past decade, having twice attempted to bring him to west London during Carlo Ancelotti's reign and even reportedly meeting up with his number one target in Paris while Andre Villas-Boas was in the Stamford Bridge hotseat.

A source within the club has claimed that Abramovich's desire to recruit Guardiola has been clear for a long time and that he's a huge fan of his style of play.

“There was never any secret in the admiration Roman had for Guardiola,” he said. “Pep quickly established himself as one of the best coaches in the world at Barça, and the success and type of football he had them playing set him apart.

Pep Guardiola has been courted by Chelsea for over a decade | Pool/Getty Images

"His was the style of the moment, one to which other coaches, clubs and owners aspired. It was only natural he was very much on our radar.”

Guardiola had always been open about his desire to manage in England - expressing as much during his time with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich - though, having opted for Manchester City in 2016 it meant he became a direct rival to the man had who coveted his services for so long.

That being said, even if Guardiola had opted for a move to Stamford Bridge there's of course no guarantee the marriage would have worked.

The former Bayern manager took time to settle in the north west - picking up no silverware at all in his first season as City boss - and the individual at the club who spoke to The Athletic has suggested even he might have been handed his marching orders if he'd done the same at Chelsea.

Roman Abramovich is a long-term admirer of Pep Guardiola | Epsilon/Getty Images

“This is all hypothetical, but not even Guardiola would have been immune to the pragmatic change that we instigate here had he not been successful,” he added. “Chelsea have to win. If you don’t win, you’re out.

"We are not afraid to make changes when we see fit. Whereas, with Begiristian and Soriano implanted at City, that just smacked of a long-term project. And the kind where Pep would be safe.”

Source: 90min