Spanish sports newspaper, Marca, has plenty of reasons to dislike Pep Guardiola. The publiciation, which serves as Real Madrid’s propaganda arm, watched Pep’s Barcelona largely dominate Real during his time in charge of the club and often attacked him and his players.
Years later, there is still resentment and some of the language used in their latest piece on the City boss shows that. It isn’t a complete attack on Pep, though, as there is grudging respect for his influence and ability.
The main focus of Marca’s article is on Guardiola’s ‘theft’ of Brazilian wonderkid, Gabriel Jesus, who they believe is heading to Manchester City, much like most of the Brazilian press (though there are stories of a serious United hijack attempt for those who like to panic). Gabriel Jesus will join City for €32 million and will play at the Etihad Stadium from January, Marca states, but they are bothered that Real Madrid haven’t signed the player. Signing Gabriel Jesus was seen as an attempt to get one back at Barcelona, who pipped them to Neymar, but if the stories are true, neither of Spain’s big two will be signing the 19-year-old.
Marca say that Pep’s recent ‘modus operandi’ is to phone young players and ‘seduce’ them into joining his club. The author claims that while at Bayern Munich, Pep tried to sign Martin Ødegaard, the much-hyped wonderkid, and promised him first-team minutes, only for the Norwegian to join Real Madrid – a move which, so far, hasn’t gone well. And now, in addition to Gabriel Jesus, Pep has also convinced Leroy Sané to join him in Manchester, with only Schalke’s ‘stubbornness’ for €50 million delaying the deal.
A compliment for Pep follows, with Marca admitting that Real Madrid see his City side as one of their biggest rivals in the coming years. With the great Guardiola at the helm, more money than ever from TV revenues, and plenty of ambition, the Madrid club expects City to be a serious threat to their European ambitions in the years to come.
Marca reverts to type after that, accusing Pep of ‘disrupting’ Real Madrid’s plans in recent days by making approaches for key duo Toni Kroos and Dani Carvajal. Carvajal is almost certainly not leaving Real Madrid, since the man brought in to challenge him at right-back, Danilo, has been a major flop thus far. Kroos is also unlikely to leave unless Real Madrid make a last minute attempt to hijack Paul Pogba’s move to Manchester United. Despite that, Marca believes there are genuine concerns within the corridors of power at the Santiago Bernabéu about Kroos’ future.
Many of these claims by Marca should be taken with a pinch of salt. There is lingering resentment towards Guardiola, because he is a proud Catalan who led one of the greatest club teams ever from 2008 until 2012, with their success coming at the expense of Real Madrid. That Real see Pep’s City as a threat, however, should probably be regarded as a compliment. It’s doubtful they were as concerned about Mancini or Pellegrini’s City sides as they are about Guardiola’s.