Manchester City aiming for the top after snaring Pep Guardiola
Manchester City have set their sets on sustained success at the highest level after finally realising their dream of landing Pep Guardiola.
City have announced the outgoing Bayern Munich and former Barcelona boss, arguably the most coveted manager in world football, will join them in the summer.
The 45-year-old has signed a three-year contract and will replace Manuel Pellegrini, who has agreed to step aside at the end of the current campaign.
City have long seen Guardiola as the man to take them to the next level at home and in Europe and their capture of the two-time Champions League winner ends a long pursuit. The club have revealed they first tried to bring in the Spaniard when he left the Nou Camp in 2012 - a fact Pellegrini was fully aware of when he was eventually appointed to replace Roberto Mancini the following year.
Guardiola won 14 trophies in four seasons in charge at Barca and has twice won the Bundesliga with Bayern. His appointment - which could catapult City into yet another league in terms of recruiting players - is arguably the biggest statement of the Sheikh Mansour era.
As with players in the past, money has not been an object with reports claiming Guardiola will be paid more than £15million per year.
Guardiola sparked a scramble for his services when he announced he would be leaving Bayern in December and subsequently revealed he would like to work in England. Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal were also linked but City were always the favourites as Guardiola has previously worked under chief executive Ferran Soriano and sporting director Txiki Begiristain at Barca.
Sources at United have denied they approached Guardiola but City are understood to believe he did resist overtures from some of their rivals to commit to them.
The news ends considerable speculation over the futures of both Guardiola and Pellegrini, although the timing of the announcement came as a surprise.
The first confirmation of the changes came at the end of a standard Pellegrini press conference to preview Tuesday's Barclays Premier League game at Sunderland.
Pellegrini revealed he would not be taking up the year's extension to his contract agreed last summer and that he had been kept fully informed of everything happening at the club.
After answering his final question and as people started to leave, Pellegrini said: "Before we finish I will tell you that I talked with the club and I will finish my contract on the original date in June.
"There has been a lot of speculation about things, but they (the club) are not doing anything behind me. I knew this one month ago. I don't think it is good to have speculation about different things.
"I prefer to finish (by announcing) today - that is why I have told the press and told the players. I told the club two weeks ago that I would do it."
Pellegrini, who won a Premier League and Capital One Cup double in his first season in charge, could now find himself a man in demand.
Press Association Sport understands City will not stand in the Chilean's way if he wants to speak to other clubs during the remaining months of his contract. The club have also not discussed a different role with the Chilean as they believe he intends to remain in management, possibly elsewhere in the Premier League.
He remains highly thought of at the Etihad Stadium and his relationship with the club remains good. City expect there to be a lot of interest in him and would not have replaced him if they could not land Guardiola.
City also hope that bringing the matter into the open will galvanise the squad for the rest of the season as they continue to challenge in four competitions. They hope this way - with all loose ends tied up - it will play out differently to the situation at United in 2001 when the announcement of Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement created some uncertainty.
A club statement read: "Out of respect for Manuel Pellegrini and the players, the club wishes to make its decision public to remove the unnecessary burden of speculation.
"Manuel Pellegrini, who is fully supportive of the decision to make this communication, is entirely focused on achieving his targets for the season ahead and retains the respect and commitment of all involved with the leadership of the club."