Pep Guardiola will stand down as Barcelona manager

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Pep Guardiola is understood to be on the brink of ending his tenure as manager of Barcelona after telling the club he cannot carry on.

The 41-year-old Catalan will announce his intentions at a press conference at the Nou Camp on Friday afternoon.

And barring a last-minute change of heart, Guardiola is expected to confirm his departure from the club he has led to two Champions League titles.

The Barcelona manager has arranged to meet his players on Friday morning.

It is thought Guardiola will take a year-long break from football should he leave his post.

Guardiola spent three hours with Barcelona president Sandro Rossell on Thursday morning.

During the talks, which took place at Rossell's private home in the city, Guardiola is understood to have expressed his belief that he could "not go on."

What had begun as discussions over an extension to his one-year rolling contract soon turned into a push to keep Guardiola at the club. Rossell is understood to have offered Guardiola unlimited spending power this summer but the Catalan will not base his decision on money.

Guardiola, who captained the club as a player, has always maintained that he would do what was best for the club. He spent Thursday afternoon with his family and is expected to tell Rossell of his decision later tonight.

While it cannot be ruled out that Guardiola may change his mind, the club fear that the man who has led them to two Champions League titles and three La Liga crowns has made his decision.

The manner of the defeat by Real Madrid on Saturday, a result which effectively saw Barcelona relinquish their Primera Division title to Jose Mourinho's men and the Champions League defeat by Chelsea have prompted this rethink.

Rosell has, however, been firmly behind his manager in the wake of those results. "I hope that Josep is our coach next season", Rosell said on Wednesday.

"We have confidence in him; he is essential for our type of play."

Guardiola stepped up from manager of the Barcelona B in 2008 and has gone on to become the most successful coach in the club's illustrious history.

During his four-year tenure, Guardiola has won two Champions League crowns, three La Liga trophies, one Copa del Rey, three Supercopas, two Uefa Super Cups and two Fifa Club World Cups.

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Pep Guardiola will stand down as Barcelona manager at the end of the season after deciding not to renew his rolling one-year contract.

The 41-year-old, who was appointed in 2008 and has led the Catalan club to 13 trophies, will be succeeded by current assistant Tito Vilanova.

Barca look set to miss out to Real Madrid in La Liga and were knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea.

"The reason is simple: four years is enough," said Guardiola.

"I'm drained and I need to fill up. The demand has been very high and a manager must be strong."

It is understood the former Spain international will take a year away from football after relinquishing his duties to Vilanova.

"At the beginning of December I announced to the chairman that I was seeing the end of my era at Barcelona," Guardiola continued.

"Time has taken its toll - I rise each day and don't feel the same. I am going with the understanding that I have done my duty.

"You can only recover by resting and getting away from everything. It would have been a bad idea to continue. Perhaps it would not have gone wrong but I have the perception that it would. It is my time to go.

"Now we are out of the two main competitions it is a good time to announce this. I did not want to continue with the confusion.

"I want to thank my players who are responsible for everything that has happened here. I don't want to manage at the moment."

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