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Football | Germany

Bayern back Guardiola to be German hit

Bayern Munich expect Pep Guardiola to adapt well to life in Germany, as players and managers alike hailed the former Barcelona manager's return to top-flight football.

The Bavarian giants announced on Wednesday that Guardiola would take over from Jupp Heynckes at the end of the current campaign, ending months of speculation that linked him to managerial posts from South America to the English Premier League.

Bayern chairman Karl Heinz Rummenigge denied that Guardiola would be in Munich on Friday, telling a news conference on Thursday: "He is going to stay in New York for the moment and work intensively on his German.

"He does not want to interfere in any way in the current season and the work of Jupp Heynckes."

Rummenigge said he had no doubts about Guardiola's ability to master German between now and when he is officially unveiled, which was likely to take place on July 1 when he takes up his new job.

"I think that when he arrives it (German) will not be a problem for him," Rummenigge said, pointing out that the coach already spoke fluent English.

Even during his self-imposed sabbatical year in New York, the man who guided Barca to 14 trophies between 2008 and 2012 was well-informed about his future club, he added.

Rummenigge told reporters that Heynckes let it be known before Christmas that he did not wish to stay on beyond the second year of his contract at the club, prompting them to increase their contact with Guardiola.

Bayern players Manuel Neuer and Philipp Lahm were among the many who welcomed Guardiola's appointment, with Germany captain Lahm saying his decision was a reflection of the quality of the team.

"He's a young coach who still has his future ahead of him," he added.

Guardiola had earlier on Wednesday sent a video message for the 150th anniversary celebrations of England's Football Association, revealing his desire to one day take charge of a Premier League club.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said Guardiola – who had been linked to coaching jobs at European champions Chelsea and Premier League champions Manchester City – had told him on several occasions that he wanted to come to England.

The Frenchman admitted that he was surprised that he instead opted for the Bundesliga.

But he added: "Bayern are an interesting club, Germany is an interesting league, well-managed, so it is defendable what he has done."

Wenger has been a Premier League manager for 16 years and described the league as "the most interesting" in the world. But he insisted Guardiola had not taken a backward step because of the proliferation of young talent in Germany.

"In Germany, maybe along with Spain, they are a country with the best young players. If you look at the results of Germany in the under-17s, under-18s and under-19s, in the last three seasons, they beat everybody," he added.

"It is the football of tomorrow. Tomorrow's football will be played in Germany, certainly."

Former Barcelona star and German international Bernd Schuster also hailed Guardiola's appointment, believing it will herald the arrival of more big names.

"The superstars of the industry will have certainly noted that such a top man has gone to the Bundesliga," Schuster, 53, told German daily Die Welt.

"He will strengthen the Bundesliga's attraction."

But Schuster, who also played for Real Madrid in the 1980s and managed them from 2007-2008, also believes that Guardiola will inherit a good Bayern side.

"Guardiola must not forget that his predecessor at Barcelona Frank Rijkaard left him a strong team. Players such as Messi, Puyol, Iniesta, Eto'o and Xavi were already there.

"It's a similar situation to what he will find in Munich, where Heynckes will leave a top team with an excellent base."


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