Guardiola confirms Barcelona exit at the end of the season

The Catalan coach has confirmed his decision to leave his post at the end of the current campaign after a four-year spell, citing the need to rediscover his passion for the game
Pep Guardiola has announced that he will leave his position as Barcelona coach at the end of the season.

The 41-year-old had already informed his squad of his decision to leave his Camp Nou post earlier on Friday, and the Catalan has now publicly confirmed that he will not extend his expiring contract with the Blaugrana.

The former Spain international claimed three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues among his 13 trophies during his time at the helm, after succeeding Frank Rijkaard in 2008 after previously leading the club's B' team.

Guardiola admitted that his decision to leave the Blaugrana had been made in autumn, but only decided to reveal the news to his players and to the media following his side's exit from the Champions League and the Primera Division title race.

"I want you to understand this isn't a simple decision, but I'll try to explain what I feel and I hope that people understand. I'm deeply sorry for the confusion over the last few weeks," Guardiola stated at a press conference.

"I've always wanted short contracts because the demand at Barca is so big. I lived that as a player, and I know exactly how it works. I always thought that four years is an eternity for a club. I didn't want to have a contract that will bind me to decisions I didn't want.

"In the autumn, I announced to the president and director of football that it was the end of my era at Barca, but I couldn't say that to the players, because it would have been too complex then. Now that we're out of the two main competitions, it's a good time to make the announcement."

2008-09 La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League
2009-10 La Liga, Club World Cup, Supercopa, Uefa Super Cup
2010-11 La Liga, Champions League, Supercopa
2011-12 Club World Cup, Supercopa, Uefa Super Cup
The former midfielder then went on to stress that the main reason for his departure is the exhaustive nature of the job, and that his family did not affect his decision.

"Family didn't have an influence," he insisted. "My partner knows me from when I was a player, kids are still young. It was a personal decision.

"Four years makes everyone tired. I told the president that my era was nearing its end around September or October. The new coach will be able to give things I'm not able to give any more.

"Talking to the press and players for four years is very demanding. Perhaps we wouldn't have gone wrong, but I had a feeling that we would. I know what I'm leaving - that it's the best place, but it's the right time."

Guardiola also reserved special praise for midfielder Seydou Keita, who has never nailed down a regular starting berth during his tenure and yet remained an integral member of the squad.

"Keita has been my ethical and moral barometer," he confessed. "I watched him to see if I was doing a good or bad job." 

Guardiola went on to pay tribute to the rest of his troops collectively, and insisted that he needs time to recharge his batteries, while revealing that he does not wish to return to coaching immediately as he looks to take a sabbatical.

"I don't have anything to prove, I'm not interested in proving myself abroad and will go away from football at the moment," he explained.

"I want to thanks my players who have been responsible for everything I have had here - it's been a privilege to train them. I did it all with a lot of passion, but I want to thank the players. Day by day, for so many years, they made it all possible.

"I don't have any energy left, I need to recharge. I need to recover the passion that I had when I first started - time has taken its toll. I just don't feel the same. Barca don't deserve that. That's all I'm going to say.

"I know that being at Barca is a privilege, but I believe I'm doing the right thing. I'm at peace with my decision.

"I'm going with the understanding that I've done my duty, and I'm proud of everything I did. This club is an unstoppable force. My replacement will be very able, and will do his job marvellously."

Zubizarreta confirmed soon after that current assistant coach Tito Vilanova will be the club's new boss from next season on and the outgoing coach insisted that he will allow his successor to work in peace, outlining his desire to make a clean break with the club.

"I will leave and I won't intervene anymore," he declared. "Now it's up to Tito; I'm setting a step aside. I'll be here until the cup final.

"I won't keep the titles, I will keep the memories of personal relations, what we lived together. That has been the best part.

"There are more things than football. I will rest and maybe one day I will say, now let's train. But maybe not. Let's just see where life takes me."

Guardiola's final game will be the Copa del Rey final clash with Athletic Bilbao at the Vicente Calderon on May 25.