Guardiola names ‘next Man City boss’ in tunnel exchange with three stars

Man City's recent form gives their title competitors hope

Pep Guardiola reportedly told three Brighton players last season that Roberto De Zerbi was next in line to succeed him at Manchester City. Several young coaches have been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium in the future, including Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, though the Spaniard appears to have made his mind up on his successor.

Guardiola signed a contract extension with City last year that will see him remain with the club until 2025, and the ex-Barcelona boss reportedly intends to depart when that deal expires. The 52-year-old will have spent nine years in the Premier League at that stage, with a move into international management a possibility that has been speculated previously.

City have asserted themselves as the best team in Europe under Guardiola, with their treble-winning success last season showcasing the quality that the squad possesses. With young players like Erling Haaland, Phil Foden and Josko Gvardiol all still improving as well, the club will remain a dominant force for the foreseeable future.

Guardiola is keen to ensure that he leaves City in capable hands and he has reportedly settled on Brighton manager De Zerbi as the ideal candidate to replace him. According to The Telegraph, the former Bayern Munich boss went public with his decision in May after his side’s 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium.

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The spoils being shared meant that the Seagulls had qualified for the Europa League for the first time in their history and celebrations were in full flow on the south coast. Three unnamed Brighton players are said to have escaped the spotlight to soak in the moment in the tunnel after the full-time whistle sounded when they were then approached by Guardiola.

The City manager told the trio: “That’s the next Man City manager,” whilst nodding his head towards De Zerbi – who was ‘out of earshot’ further down the tunnel speaking with his colleagues.

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The praise will not have come as a shock to the Brighton players given they have been transformed by the ex-Sassuolo boss in the last 12 months, becoming a free-scoring side that plays out from the back with confidence regardless of their opponent.

Guardiola has not shied away from singing the praises of De Zerbi since he arrived in England, saying in May: “Pay attention to what I’m going to say because I am pretty convinced I am right in what I am saying, I’m pretty sure Roberto De Zerbi is one of the most influential managers of the last 20 years. It is like a Michelin-starred restaurant. In Catalonia, there was El Bulli with Ferran Adira, the best cook for many years and he changed cuisine completely. I think Brighton’s play is unique and special.”

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