By Greg Stobart
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has no intention of returning to management this summer despite interest from Liverpool as the Anfield club step up their hunt for a successor to Kenny Dalglish.
Guardiola announced last month he would step down as Barcelona boss at the end of the season citing exhaustion after four years in charge - and the 41-year-old will not consider changing his plans for a year-long sabbatical despite his desire to one day manage in the Premier League.
The news will come as no surprise to Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) but is nevertheless a blow as their managerial hunt descended into chaos on Friday, with reports suggesting they could approach up to 12 managers over the vacancy.
|By Martin Langer | Chief Editor, Goal.com Spain
Pep Guardiola will not accept any job offers this summer. No matter the size of the club or the quality of the project on offer, the former Barcelona boss has made it clear to everyone who will listen that he will take a sabbatical year and only analyse his future after he comes back from it.
Word from people close to him is that he is just completely exhausted from his four years at Barca and that he is not even sure if he wants to continue managing at all.
He thinks he may not even be made for the continual backstabbing in the football world; the mind games, the rumours and lies from the press.
Still, that discussion belongs to the future. The reality at the moment is that Guardiola is not going to Liverpool on anywhere else. As he himself said it, he does not want to move more than 40 minutes away from his hometown of Santpedor and it seems that is where he will stay for the foreseeable future.
As revealed by Goal.com on Thursday, Roberto Martinez remains the leading candidate and will open talks in Boston next week after being given permission to talk to Liverpool by Latics chairman Dave Whelan.
Andre Villas-Boas has also been sounded out for the role but Martinez remains the hot favourite, despite featuring on an eclectic long-list that reportedly includes Fabio Capello, Didier Deschamps and Jurgen Klopp.
There have even been suggestions that former Reds boss Rafael Benitez could be in line for a return to the club that sacked him in 2010, despite initially being ruled out of contention by sources on Merseyside.
FSG are searching for a head coach who can fit in to the desired management structure, as managing director Ian Ayre revealed on Thursday that the role former director of football Damien Comolli previously undertook will be split as the club plan two appointments of senior personnel.
The new manager will be asked to focus on training and preparing the squad, with Ayre identifying some of the qualities Liverpool are looking for as "experience and ability, methodology, style of play and character traits".
Principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner are desperate to re-establish Liverpool in the Champions League elite having dismissed Dalglish earlier this week as the Kop legend faced the consequences of a poor Premier League campaign in which the Reds could only finish eighth.
FSG believe Martinez fits their criteria of being young, dynamic and capable of introducing a footballing ethos which runs through all levels at the club.
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