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Jan 17, 2013

Lizarazu backs Guardiola appointment

Former Bayern Munich defender Bixente Lizarazu is not surprised Pep Guardiola has decided to return to the dug-out with the Bavarian giants, believing it to be "quite logical".

• Blog: Willkommen zu Bayern
• Bayern 'potential' lured Guardiola

The announcement Guardiola will succeed Jupp Heynckes at the head of the four-time European champions astonished much of the football world, but not Lizarazu, who believes the ex-Barcelona coach and the club where he spent more than eight years are a perfect match.

"A great coach has joined a great club. It's quite logical. He's decided to go to a real football club with a history, with tradition, with a family spirit, a culture, an identity, an incredible list of honours and a great board," the former France international, who won the 2001 Champions League with Bayern, told radio station RTL.

"They proposed a big project to him, and he liked the look of it because Bayern Munich are a club which has the means to match his ambitions. They're one of the only clubs which marries both the financial and sporting aspects because they win titles while keeping their accounts in the black."

While Bayern's finances may have helped convince Guardiola, it seems the economic aspect of the German league leader's offer of a three-year contract was not a deciding factor. RTL's German correspondent, Alexis Menuge, reported the ex-Spain international's annual salary would be €12 million after tax, significantly less than he may have earned at Premier League sides Chelsea and Manchester City, who were also reportedly hoping to lure him back into the game after his year-long sabbatical.

"That's really interesting as it's a choice really based on sport. He looked at everything, from the sporting side of things to club policy. Bayern is an extremely stable club, and it's reassuring to know that the club is led by the same people who have done so for the last 20 or 30 years," Lizarazu said.

"What Guardiola also likes is the idea of perpetuating a certain way of playing the game, one which he developed at Barca based on very high quality, while Bayern like to play very attacking football. It's certainly for that reason that they reached an agreement."

Heynckes, 67, will bring an end to his illustrious career when his contract expires at the season's end. With Bayern nine points clear of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, and still in the running for the DFB Pokal and Champions League, the veteran could have a silverware-gilded swansong.

Though Lizarazu pointed out Guardiola, who speaks fluent English, will have to quickly get his German up to scratch, the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winner said Bayern clearly believe the Spaniard can take the club a step further than Heynckes - to the very summit of not only domestic but also European football.

"Bayern are on a perpetual quest for progress. They are one of Europe's biggest clubs, but can still improve in terms of how they play, and put on even more of a spectacle going forward. The real subject is the language: Pep has six months to get his messages across, but he'll have a quality squad. It could even be reinforced, because they're one of the few clubs who can do that," Lizarazu said.

"The first thing to do is to become the dominant force in the Bundesliga again, because Dortmund have won the title the last two seasons. The second thing is to go all the way in the Champions League. They're in the semi-finals every year, at least. This team can do both."

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