Roman Abramovich was “obsessed” with hiring Pep Guardiola as Chelsea’s manager and attempted to do so on six occasions, it has been claimed.
The Russian billionaire bought the Premier League club back in 2003 and has piled millions into the west Londoners to make them five-time Premier League champions, as well as Champions League winners.
But in his pursuit for glory as the club’s mega-rich owner, Abramovich has controversially got rid of 14 managers; including Jose Mourinho and Guus Hiddink twice.
Thomas Tuchel is now in charge of the Blues and has guided them to the semi-finals in the Champions League and the FA Cup, while they are also in the hunt for a top-four spot in the Premier League.
Abramovich may well be content with Tuchel’s performances but, according to The Athletic, the businessman has always been obsessed with hiring Guardiola as manager.
It has been claimed that the Russian has followed Guardiola’s progress ever since he emerged as a world-class manager at Barcelona, where he won 14 trophies in a glittering four-year spell.
The publication names six occasions in which Blues chiefs touched base with Guardiola”s representatives over an ambitious swoop; only to get rejected every time.
Chelsea apparently made clear their initial interest in Guardiola back in 2010, when Carlo Ancelotti was struggling as manager, and they revisited their interest for a second time a few months later once the Italian’s exit had been given the green light.
A third approach is believed to have been made when Andre Villas-Boas’ short tenure came to an end in early 2012, but again the club had no luck in persuading the Spaniard to leave Barcelona.
Guardiola then shocked the football world by announcing his intention to take a year away from management at the end of the 2011/12 season.
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But that didn’t stop Chelsea from making a fourth approach ahead of the new 2012/13 campaign, with Abramovich keen to tempt him to the Premier League side who had just won the Champions League under Roberto Di Matteo.
Di Matteo’s European triumph saw him handed an extended stay but, after he was sacked in November 2012 and the pressure increased on interim boss Rafa Benitez, Guardiola was approached for a fifth time.
A sixth and final attempt was made following Jose Mourinho’s sacking by Chelsea for a second time in December in 2015, with an attempt to hire Guardiola in the summer of 2016.
But it is understood that Guardiola had already made his mind up about Abramovich, believing that “the hiring and firing culture was not for him”.
Indeed, the Spaniard held long-term fears that Chelsea’s “‘short-termism’ was a huge concern for him – and he even cited the controversial dismissals of Villas-Boas and Di Matteo.
The Spaniard eventually joined Chelsea’s fierce top-flight rivals Manchester City that summer and is on the brink of guiding the club to a third Premier League title at the helm.