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Bayern Munich has pulled off a spectacular coup for the German league by recruiting Pep Guardiola as head coach for next season in a glamor move that can only serve to enhance the Bundesliga's rising profile.
Having hinted at future plans to coach in England on Tuesday in London, Guardiola was then announced as Bayern's new coach for the 2013-14 season on Wednesday with current boss Jupp Heynckes, 67, to step down in June.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is reported to have offered him a multi-millon pound deal, but Guardiola spent the season so far in his New York apartment, studying at Columbia University and watching the offers pour in.
Since walking away from Barcelona last June, Europe's top clubs have all been vying for the Spaniard's services.
His record is immaculate: twice winning the Champions League title as Barcelona coach, in 2009 and 2011, and claiming nine Spanish league titles, plus lifting the Spanish League Cup four times as either a player or manager.
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's 12 Premier League titles and five FA Cup wins certainly betters Guardiola's record, but the Bayern's new 41-year-old head coach is 30 years younger.
Having finished the last two seasons without winning any silverware, Bayern rightly feels the flush of its coup having attracted someone of Guardiola's caliber.
The Bavarians are still smarting from last May's misery, when they conceded both the German league and cup to current champion Borussia Dortmund, and then lost the Champions League final at their own stadium to Chelsea.
Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was in a buoyant mood as Bayern upstaged its English rival to secure Guardiola's signature.
"We are delighted we've succeeded in bringing expert coach Pep Guardiola, who has been pursued and contacted by many big-name clubs, to FC Bayern," he said with Guardiola set to be presented on Friday.
"Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world, and we're certain he will add great flair to both FC Bayern and German football.
"We're looking forward to the partnership from July 2013."
Despite all his success at Barcelona, Guardiola - whom moody Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic once dubbed "a philosopher" as an insult - will have his work cut out at Bayern, where immediate success is demanded.
Ex-German national coach and current USA boss Jurgen Klinsmann lasted 10 months before he was sacked in April 2009 with his team second in the league as VfL Wolfsburg won the league title.
Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal was dismissed in April 2011 despite winning the league and cup double, plus having reached the 2010 Champions League final, the season before.
But Switzerland manager Ottmar Hitzfeld, who coached Bayern to its 2001 Champions League win and five Bundesliga titles, said Guardiola will fit in.
"He's one of the best coaches in the world, has worked successfully and fits the mentality of Bayern Munich," the 64-year-old said.
(China Daily 01/18/2013 page24)