Guardiola wants to be boss at Old Trafford
Bayern Munich fear they have failed to keep their manager Pep Guardiola away from a move to the Premier League, but his destination may not be Manchester City as originally believed.
Despite all the talk of Guardiola replacing Manuel Pellegrini, the Spaniard is understood to see Manchester United as his preferred option when he makes his next move, potentially next summer.
Karl Heinz Rummenigge, the Bayern president, said last week that the issue of Guardiola's future would be resolved by the new year. Guardiola has proven notoriously difficult to pin down in the past, preferring to announce decisions at the last moment.
Rummenigge was forced to abandon a plan to announce a new two-year deal for Guardiola, which would have made him the world's highest paid coach, at the club's AGM on Friday night.
Guardiola cancelled a press conference ahead of Bayern's match against Hertha Berlin, amid renewed claims from Spain that he had agreed a pre-contract with City to succeed Pellegrini and take over there next season. But Bayern fear it is United that is his preferred destination.
Guardiola may have simply pulled out of the media briefing because he is tired of the speculation although he knows it will continue until he decides whether he will sign a new contract at Bayern. The club said he cancelled for personal reasons.
United would have to part with Louis van Gaal if they were to land Guardiola, although given Guardiola's status, and the new culture of regular change at the top of Europe's biggest clubs, it is unlikely they would baulk at a pay-off of around £7 million for their Dutch manager. Van Gaal is contracted for one more season after this.
Manchester City and their director of football, Txiki Begiristain, consider Guardiola their priority appointment, although he has never given them any assurances about coming one day.
United attempted to bring the Spaniard in when Alex Ferguson decided to retire, only to lose out to Bayern. With Van Gaal failing to win many fans with his conservative style of football, the possibility of signing Guardiola would be popular with the Old Trafford faithful.