Former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola signed a three-year contract to take over at Bayern Munich, the record 22-time German champion soccer club said.
Guardiola, who turns 42 in two days, will join Bayern in July, the club said on its website. He’ll replace Jupp Heynckes, who’ll retire when his contract expires after the season.
Guardiola left Barcelona after the 2012 season following a four-year stint in which he won two Champions Leagues and three Spanish league titles. Though he’d been on a sabbatical from the game since, Guardiola had been linked with return to some of the world’s biggest clubs including Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and AC Milan.
“We are very pleased that we have managed to sign someone like Pep Guardiola, who has been courted by so many famous clubs,” Bayern Chief Executive Officer Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in the club’s statement. “Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world and we are certain that he can make not just Bayern, but all of German football, shine.”
Bayern holds a nine-point lead over Bayer Leverkusen in the German standings as it seeks to extend its record of league wins. Though it was beaten out in the league by Borussia Dortmund the past two years, it did reach the final of the Champions League last season where it lost to Chelsea in a penalty shootout.
Bayern said Heynckes told club officials before Christmas of his plan to retire at the end of the season. The 67-year-old was in his third stint as coach, taking over for the fired Louis van Gaal after the 2010-11 season.
“In a very personal discussion with Jupp Heynckes, we assured each other that we will do everything we can to bring the 2012-13 campaign to a successful conclusion, and bring the title back to Munich,” Rummenigge said.
Heynckes previously led Bayern from 1987 to 1991 -- winning two leagues and two German Cup titles -- and then again in 2009 after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired. He also won the Champions League title in 1998 as coach of Real Madrid.
“As an adequate successor for Jupp Heynckes, only a coach of Pep Guardiola’s stature was going to work for us,” Bayern Chairman Uli Hoeness said.
A former Barcelona captain who won the 1992 European Cup, Guardiola went on to coach the club’s reserve team. He was promoted to replace Frank Rijkaard in 2008 and established Barcelona as the top club team in the world.
Featuring players such as Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, Barcelona captured each of the six competitions it took part in in Guardiola’s first season -- including Spain’s La Liga and Copa del Rey, the Club World Cup and the Champions League -- and would win 14 trophies during his tenure.