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Dec 21, 2009

Pep Guardiola's Barca future in doubt

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola could be considering leaving Camp Nou at the end of his current contract, despite guiding the Blaugranas to their most successful ever year in 2009.

Barcelona have won all six competitions they have contested since Guardiola took charge 18 months ago but the 38-year-old coach has yet to reveal whether he will extend his contract beyond this season.

Spanish media have speculated that Guardiola, who played for the club for 11 seasons, is exhausted and plans to take a break, while others believe he is waiting for the results of next year's presidential elections to see who will succeed current supremo Joan Laporta.

"Pep is a very thoughtful person and he knows what he means to the club," Laporta was quoted as saying in the Spanish press on Monday. "He wants to carry on but there are a number of things he wants to think about. I am optimistic but it's not something that you should decide in the short term."

Barca's 2-1 comeback win over Estudiantes in the final of the Club World Cup on Saturday completed a remarkable year for the Catalans and their rookie manager Guardiola. The Spanish boss has won every trophy he has competed for since replacing former boss Frank Rijkaard in the Camp Nou hotseat last summer.

An unprecedented treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and the Champions League was achieved at the end of the 2008-09 season, with the Spanish and European Super Cups and the Club World Cup already in the bag this campaign.

La Razon daily wrote on Monday that Guardiola, who broke down in tears at the end of Saturday's match, was "exhausted" and was thinking of stepping aside at the end of the season when his contract expires.

"The coach knows that there is no better time to rest than when you are at the summit," the newspaper wrote. "It's been many months of work, many hours invested and a lot of lost hair. It has all borne fruit but maybe the time has come to say enough. Pep knows that in this way the doors at Barca will always be open to him if he wants to return."

La Vanguardia said the uncertainty about Guardiola's future was worrying the club's board but that they were also reluctant to pressure him into making a decision.

"They would like a response as soon as possible so that the situation does not become a weapon in the imminent presidential election," the newspaper wrote.

The Spanish Primera Liga is currently in its winter break and Barca's next match is a friendly in Kuwait on January 2.

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