Man City board won't even consider boss Pep Guardiola once called 'world's best'

Pep Guardiola repeatedly hailed the impact of Antonio Conte (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Antonio Conte won’t be in the running to replace Pep Guardiola next year. That’s despite the Manchester City boss having once hailed him as one of the world’s best managers.

The suggestion Guardiola is set to depart the Etihad when his City contract expires at the end of next season has undoubtedly sent shockwaves through the club, where he’ll be leaving a major hole to fill after a supremely successful nine years in charge.

Replacing a manager of his stature is no easy task, especially in the current football world where experienced coaches are few and far between.

A few years back, Conte would likely have been a viable candidate given Guardiola’s high praise for him. During the Italian’s Premier League-winning season with Chelsea, he said: “My opinion about my colleague Conte is that he’s superb.

“He was able to make Italy play beautiful football – Juventus too – in a culture where it’s so defensive. He’s an excellent manager, I learn a lot when I see his teams – Juventus, Italy and now. I like to do that because you see what they want to do. Their teams control a lot of aspects. Maybe he’s the best.”

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Conte won the title with Chelsea in Guardiola’s first season at City (Image: Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Guardiola has reiterated these sentiments over the years, including during Conte’s tenure at Tottenham. However, as we approach 2025, it seems highly unlikely that Conte will be in the running, particularly as he is poised to take over as Napoli’s new manager.

The list of potential successors to Guardiola is not extensive. Roberto De Zerbi, who departed Brighton at the season’s end, is the favourite according to bookmakers – but he would need to take a year-long break from management.

Guardiola has always endorsed Vincent Kompany as a future City manager. But he’s on his way to Bayern Munich. Former assistant Enzo Maresca seems to be heading to Chelsea. And prising away another of his old colleagues, Mikel Arteta, for a surprise move from Arsenal would be challenging.

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Xabi Alonso will continue to be considered for most top positions, and could be available after deciding to turn down Bayern and Liverpool to stay at Bayer Leverkusen for another year.

Zinedine Zidane also comes up in discussions whenever a significant vacancy arises, although he is thought to be waiting to manage France in the long term having been out of a job since 2021.

It’s possible that the City Football Group will recruit internally and turn to Michel, the Spaniard who has orchestrated Girona’s rise from the second division to Champions League football and reportedly turned down Chelsea with an eye on the Etihad.