Pep Guardiola leaving Man City: Our top three replacements for legendary boss

In the last few days, a handful of bombshell reports have emerged, suggesting that Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will leave the club at the end of his contract next season.

The 53-year-old is widely considered the best manager in the world. He has won a record-breaking four consecutive Premier League titles, captured the Champions League and transformed City from a nouveau-riche up-and-comer to a member of the European elite.

Guardiola leaving: could it loosen City's chokehold on the Premier League? – Photo by Icon Sport

Pep Guardiola leaving Man City: Why 2025?

The former Barcelona and Bayern manager has been exceptional in the Premier League, achieving a level of dominance not even Sir Alex Ferguson’s great Manchester United sides achieved, after guiding City to an unprecedented fourth straight league title.

His influence is everywhere to be seen away from City too. Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta – the man who has been his closest title rival for the past two years – was his assistant. Meanwhile, former Burnley and now Bayern Munich manager Vincent Kompany studied his every move. And another of his former assistants, Enzo Maresca, is set to take charge at Chelsea.

Pep Guardiola's current contract, signed in 2022 and ending in 2025, offers a natural end point to his time in Manchester. Yet, the reasons for his departure would only be speculative at this point.

If the rumours are true, the Catalan may simply seek a new challenge in another league – perhaps Serie A, a title in which would see him complete the traditional ‘triple crown' of club-level management. Alternatively, he may even wish to try his hand at international management.

Guardiola leaving
Pep Guardiola may call time on his City spell – Photo by Icon Sport

The other, more cynical interpretation is that Guardiola may be looking to get out of City, with the club facing potential punishment for the 115 charges of financial misconduct levelled against them by the Premier League. Getting out would limit any damage to Guardiola’s reputation in the result of guilty verdicts.

Whatever the reason though, he will take some replacing when the time comes. And with the Sky Blues potentially having a whole year to plan for the event, they may be earmarking certain A-listers to fill the vacancy. Here's our top three picks…

Filippo Inzaghi has built a superb side at Inter – Photo by Icon Sport

Our top three replacements

3) Simone Inzaghi

Starting our list is Inter manager Simone Inzaghi. The 48-year-old Italian has put together an impressive CV from his time with the Nerazzurri, as well as Lazio.

In 2023/24, Inzaghi’s Scudetto-winning Inter played one of the best league seasons around. Collecting 94 points, with a red-hot attack and a mean defence, his side finished 27 points ahead of second-placed AC Milan.

Inzaghi has often had limited resources to work with, but with Inter having made a £150m profit in the transfer market in his three seasons at the helm, it will be interesting – and perhaps even frightening – to see what he can do with City's vast resources.

Julian Nagelsmann is leading Germany into a home Euros – Photo by Icon Sport

2) Julian Nagelsmann

Despite being just 36, Julian Nagelsmann already has eight years of managerial experience under his belt. Nagelsmann is a typical ‘wunderkind' coach in the mould of Brian Clough. He is the youngest manager in Champions League history.

After impressing at Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig, Bayern paid a world-record €25 million to release him from his Leipzig contract and appointed him in 2021.

The manager won the 2021/22 Bundesliga, but by the middle of 2022/23 things had soured. Despite being top of the league, Bayern sacked Nagelsmann in March on account of an unfortunate run of form and cultural differences between him and influential Bayern figures.

He has since become Germany manager, and has impressed thus far, as he tries to restore Die Mannschaft to their imperious best as Euro 2024 hosts. Nagelsmann has even described Pep Guardiola as his ‘role model’ in the past, and there are key similarities between them.

For one thing, both coaches have a devotion to the finest of details, positional play, aggressive pressing and dominating every phase of play. He would be a fine way to guarantee a smooth transition into a new era.

The biggest obstacle to appointing Nagelsmann is his new contract with Germany, running to 2026. But that won’t stop City from trying.

Xabi Alonso is the hottest managerial property in world football – Photo by Icon Sport

1) Xabi Alonso

Alonso is top of most club’s shopping lists after his phenomenal first full season at Bayer Leverkusen. As a testament to the high regard in which he is held, Liverpool and Bayern Munich both made approaches for the 42-year-old before he committed to another year in Leverkusen earlier this year.

The former midfielder great won the Bundesliga unbeaten, captured the DfB Pokal and reached the Europa League final, all with a team bereft of a trophy for three decades. His side blew away the ever-dominant Bayern Munich with a patient and expansive style of play that no side could match.

Alonso played for Pep at Bayern Munich, and knows the Premier League very well from his time with Liverpool. But City will likely face an enormous tug-of-war with their main continental rival of recent years to get their man: Real Madrid.

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.