MADRID May 6 Former club captain Pep Guardiola
will replace Frank Rijkaard as Barcelona coach at the end of
the season, Spanish media reported on Tuesday.
Newspapers said that Barcelona's delegate commission, which
includes club president Joan Laporta and sporting director
Txiki Begiristain, had met on Monday and recommended that
Guardiola should replace Rijkaard as first team coach.
Barcelona-based daily Sport said the decision would be
ratified by the rest of the board and made official at the end
of the season.
The club has said it will not comment on possible changes
until the season is over.
Rijkaard, whose contract runs to 2009, has denied reports
he will step down as coach in the wake of the team's failure to
win any silverware over the past two seasons.
Local-born Guardiola made his name at Barcelona as a
cultured midfielder in the early 1990s when Johan Cruyff was
He quickly established himself as a favourite at the Nou
Camp and became one of the key players in Cruyff's so-called
"Dream team" which won four consecutive league titles between
1991 and 1994 and the European Cup in 1992.
He was part of the Spain side that won the gold medal in
the Barcelona Olympics and won 47 caps for the senior national
Guardiola left Barcelona in 2001 to join Serie A side
Brescia but his career in Italy was disrupted when he tested
positive for nandrolone in November 2001.
He served a four-month ban but strenuously denied any
offence and went through the courts to clear his name, finally
winning his case in October last year.
After spells in Qatar and Mexico, Guardiola announced his
retirement as a player in Nov. 2006. He was appointed coach of
Barcelona's B side last June.
(Reporting by Simon Baskett, editing by Martin Petty)