Strange Rules Concerning Transfers: Pep Guardiola has long been considered one of the greatest managers of all time and it’s clear to see why given his many successes in different leagues around the world.
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One thing he is known for is improving and developing talent to levels no one would ever think they could get to and he has done this everywhere he has been.
He and his coaches raise the standards of everyone in his team whether you’re a protégé such as Messi or a diamond in the rough like John Stones. Due to this, his teams always have a presence in the transfer market to get him his next great star.
But did you know Guardiola actually has some pretty unorthodox rules in the transfer market that he ensures his teams uphold?
Many managers have favourite players that they tend to want to sign no matter where they go and there have been plenty of cases like this in the past. Harry Redknapp did it with the likes of Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Niko Kranjcar, while Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, have signed the likes of Nemanja Matic and James Rodriguez on three separate occasions, respectively.
Interestingly, Guardiola has never signed a player more than once, crazy right?
The Spaniard has made 94 signings in his managerial career and none of them have been twice. He has managed some players at multiple clubs such as Nolito and Thiago Alcantara but has never gone out of his way to sign a player more than once. This is because wherever he has been, he is an individual who likes adapting and freshening things up and therefore relishes the opportunity to work with new individuals.
Even crazier is the fact that despite praising him his whole career, Guardiola even passed on the chance to sign his longtime favourite, Lionel Messi. A new book “God Save Pep” written by Marti Perarnau, a journalist with access to the City boss, claims that the two had a meeting at Messi’s house back in Barcelona. This was back when Messi had a year left on his contract and was inquiring about the option of joining his former boss in England.
In the chat, Guardiola told Messi:
“In Manchester we train very hard and I make long tactical talks. Maybe you’ll get bored.”
An unworried Messi said he would train hard, yet Guardiola proceeded to issue a brutal response, stating:
“Leo, we have grown older. Maybe we can’t stand each other anymore.”
A very clear indication that the Spaniard was trying to discourage Messi from joining him. He would eventually end up signing for PSG and while many believed City dropped the ball, the truth might just be Pep did not want to sign his former player, no matter how highly he rates him.
Furthermore, Guardiola takes his transfer policy a step further by blocking Manchester City from signing players from two clubs. Any guesses which clubs these are?
That’s right, Barcelona and Bayern Munich- his two former clubs.
In the book, Perarnau describes how City officials came to Guardiola with a list of players from Bayern and he proceeded to tell them not to touch a single one on the list.
There have been exceptions to this particular rule though as the Spaniard signed Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona while he was at Bayern- a player he had inherited during his time at the Blaugrana.
He also made Claudio Bravo one of his first signings when he joined City in 2016. Since then, the evidence is clear that he has upheld his transfer rules.
The block though, is one sided as he has no problem letting his own players leave to go to his former clubs. He even encouraged the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres when they expressed interest in joining Barcelona.
Interestingly, the Spaniard does have an affinity for another manager’s players as he has signed and coached plenty of them. This manager is none other than his long time rival Jürgen Klopp. Guardiola has long been complimentary of the German’s prowess in management and the fact that he seems to want some of his best players is a testament to the fact.
Ilkay Gundogan springs to mind when we think of this phenomenon since he has arguably been the most successful of Klopp’s former players under Guardiola. Gundogan’s career only started to progress after joining Borussia Dortmund where he found Klopp as manager.
During his six seasons with BVB, he helped them secure the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double in 2011/12, as well as a place in the Champions League final in 2012/13. Of Klopp, Gundogan has described him as ‘knowing how to deal with his players’, and also pointed out his exceptional motivational skills.
In 2016, Gundogan made the move to the English Premier League and Manchester City; he arrived as the first signing to be made under new manager Pep Guardiola. Despite initially suffering with injuries, the German turned it around and became a City legend, captaining the team on multiple occasions and being a large part of their Champions League success last season before leaving for Barcelona soon after.
Gundogan has described Pep’s personality as ‘charismatic’ and that his unwavering focus means that you always give your best.
Another player to fall into this category is the one and only Polish superstar, Robert Lewandowski. Under the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp, Lewandowski’s talent was nurtured and further developed. He became an influential member of the squad and was integral to their two Bundesliga title wins and Champions League final spot.
He controversially left the club on a free transfer in 2014 and signed with Bayern Munich under Guardiola. Under his influence, Lewandowski developed even further. In the 2014/15 and 2015/16 campaigns, Lewandowski scored a total of 67 goals from 100 appearances and also lifted the Bundesliga trophy in both campaigns as well as the DFB-Pokal.
He would later go on to compare the two managers, describing Klopp as ‘adopting the role of a dad’ who nurtured him into the star footballer he is today. Of Guardiola, he said that he ‘makes almost every player better’, and alludes to his almost obsessive, round-the-clock, football focused thinking.
Last but not least is world cup winner Mario Gotze who was promoted to Borussia Dortmund’s first team by none other than Klopp himself. He soon established himself in the first team and signed a new deal in 2012 that should have seen him remain at the club until 2016; however, the contract contained a €37 million release clause which Bayern triggered a year later.
It seems that Guardiola had his heart set on acquiring Gotze; and acquire him he did, much to the disappointment of Klopp. Gotze wore the Bayern Munich shirt for three seasons, helping them secure the Bundesliga title in each. He would later go on to express regret on leaving Dortmund as he found it difficult under Guardiola whereas he described Klopp as a ‘footballing father’.
Even though some players have found it difficult under the Spaniard, his success and improvement of players is clear to see. This transfer rule is just another facet of the obsessive manager as he seems to always want a fresh challenge wherever he is.