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Chelsea, Arsenal better have deep pockets if they plan to take Guardiola gamble

COMMENT: Any Premier League chairman planning to take on Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola better have deep pockets.

There's a very real prospect that Guardiola and his Real Madrid rival Jose Mourinho will bring their feud to England in the next two years. But while every Premier League fan knows what they will be getting with the Special One, the jury is still out on Guardiola - despite his great success at Barca.

The Spaniard wants to work in England and is understood to favour Arsenal, but could the Gunners, even with Stan Kroenke's billions, afford his mistakes in the transfer market?

No English club enjoys the connection between their academy and first team that Barca does. Guardiola inherited Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and has been able to routinely introduce the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Bojan Krkic and Jeffren Suarez without having to adjust any of his tactics.

But is the success of Barca's academy - and the players he inherited from Frank Rijkaard - papering over the deficiencies in Guardiola's management?

When he does move to England, he will - as he has with Barca - be expected to bring through young academy talent. But there is a chasm between the pressures of introducing a Barca B player at a half-full Almeria when you're top of the Liga compared with handing a debut to a young player at a heaving Molineux or Goodison Park.

Guardiola will also have to go out into the transfer market - and this is where Premier League chairmen must be wary about taking him on.

In his three years in charge, Guardiola has overseen transfer spending at Barca of a staggering €250 million - much of which has gone on players who have failed to make the grade. Indeed, some like Henrique and Keirrison never managed to pull on a Barca shirt, yet cost the club millions.

With no equalisation of TV revenue money and competing in a league of basically 'two', Guardiola's wastefulness can be covered in Spain. But not so in the Premier League, which is becoming more competitive every year.

How could an Arsenal or Chelsea handle spending millions on Alex Hleb, Adriano, Keirrison and Dmtryo Chygrynskiy and seeing them written off before they had completed 12 months at the club?

Throw in the man-management issues with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Villa's goal scoring drought since December and you see how much Guardiola has relied on his trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi during his three-year reign.

The Barca coach is a very honest, driven character. His insistence on sticking to a 12-month rolling contract is not about keeping Barca honest to an easy release, but holding himself accountable and staying fresh in the job. He more than anyone recognises the doubts people have - which is why he is determined for the current job not to be his last. Guardiola wants to prove himself in a different league and a different environment.

But the question is, if it is to be the Premier League, can his buying record, when truly scrutinised, convince a big club chairman to take a gamble on him?

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

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