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Jan 17, 2013

Barca stars back Guardiola's Bayern move

Barcelona coaches and players have unanimously backed to their former coach Pep Guardiola's move to Bayern Munich.

• Profile: Pep Guardiola
• Bayern 'potential' lured Guardiola
• Pep arrival 'a knighthood' for Bundesliga • Hunter: Pep picks Bayern
• Blog: Wilkommen zu Bayern, 'Sepp'

Guardiola, 41, has been without a club since leaving Barcelona at the end of the 2011-12 season as he sought time away from football. He will be in charge at the Bundesliga club from July, taking over from Jupp Heynckes, the Bavarians announced on Wednesday.

Speaking after their side's 2-2 Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg draw with Malaga at the Camp Nou, Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova, sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and players including Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano and Jose Pinto all welcomed the news.

Vilanova said he had not known Guardiola's plans in advance, but was happy his friend was back in a football. "I am very happy that he is returning to football," he said. "I did not know where he was going as there was a confidentiality agreement.

"I do not know how many teams or what kind of contracts he was offered, but I am sure they were all top level. He has had time to think about where to go.

"Bayern are an historic club. They have four Champions League titles to their name, and their facilities are fantastic."

Zubizarreta said the combination of Guardiola and Bayern appeared to make sense, adding: "I am very pleased for him. It means that he is well rested and eager to return to the world of football.

"Bayern are a club that can offer you a solid and stable project, and they also have good players. He has found what he was looking for and I am happy for him."

Barca club captain Puyol wished his former boss all the best, and added: "They [Bayern] are a very good team, and he's a fantastic manager. He is going to one of the big clubs in Europe.

Mascherano said the situation at Bayern would suit Guardiola. "It was expected for him to manage a great club, and that is what Bayern is," he explained. "They have a lot of German players, they have a defined philosophy and style of play."

Reserve goalkeeper Pinto also said he wished Guardiola the best and that "if he is happy, we are happy".

In an interview given before the Bayern announcement was made, Guardiola told FIFA.com that bringing happiness to a squad was as important to him as winning trophies.

"When I started at Barcelona, I did not go into the job thinking about winning titles come May," he said. "It is about having a good time and encouraging the players to try and do what you think is best for winning matches. The idea is to enjoy the game.

"What I will try and do in the future is what I did when I was a player - attack as well as you possibly can, keep hold of the ball and pass it to a guy wearing the same colour shirt."

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