Media reports linking former Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola with a job with Russia's national football squad haven’t found any confirmation.
Sport-Express claimed that Guardiola, who made the Catalan side the best on the planet, was to arrive in Moscow on Friday.
According to one of the daily's sources, former RFU head Sergey Fursenko signed a contract with the Spanish coach before retiring last week, while there was also information that the details of a future deal are only to be discussed in the Russian capital.
The rumors were fueled by Spartak Moscow owner Leonid Fedun, who advocated the invitation of the former Barca manager to the national team, saying: “The next coach has to be Pep Guardiola. I’m ready to finance his deal.”
But the Russian Football Union’s press service head Nikolay Komarov hurried to deny his organization’s contacts with Guardiola or any other foreign coach.
"We have Guardiola arriving tomorrow, Jose Mourinho the day after tomorrow, and Sir Alex Ferguson on Monday. I wonder what name will appear in the media next,” he told RIA-Novosti. “Seriously, the previous leadership of the RFU had no contact with potential candidates for the position of the Russian national team's head coach. As soon as we know his name, all information will appear on the Union’s official website.”
Guardiola’s agent, Jose Maria Orobitg, was also surprised to learn that his client is negotiating a new job.
"Josep hasn’t received any proposals from the RFU,” he told Izvestia. “I don’t know where such information came from. It’s out of the question. Guardiola is now with his family in New York and intends to stay in the US for another year and only then get back to work."
Journalists were waiting for a plane from over the Atlantic till the end of the day, but the Spanish coach never showed up in the Russian capital.
Meanwhile, Spain's AS newspaper reported that Serie A giants AC Milan want Guardiola heading their team, and the talks are already underway.
During his four-year stay at Barcelona, Guardiola won an impressive 14 trophies, including three Spanish championships, and lifted the Champions League twice.
The 41-year-old announced quits from the club this May after the Catalans missed out on both the La Liga and Champions League titles.
Rumors on who would be the new Russian coach started right after the national squad lost to Greece 1-0 on June 16. The country was stunned after failing to make the knock-out stage from the easiest Euro 2012 group.
Manager Dick Advocaat packed his bags and returned to Holland as it was already known that he’ll go on with his career at local side, PSV Eindhoven.
Russian Football Union boss, Sergey Fursenko, promised to name the man to replace him before the end of Euro 2012.
But it didn’t happen – moreover, Fursenko himself announced he was quitting the RFU two weeks later and his resignation was accepted by President Vladimir Putin.
Former CSKA coach Valery Gazzaev and Italian manager, Luciano Spaletti, who’s in charge of the country’s top side, Zenit, were first to be called among the contenders for the job by the media.
The name of Anzhi’s Guus Hiddink, who led Russia to Euro 2008 bronze, was mentioned as well.
Local coach Nikolay Pisarev, who previously headed the country’s beach soccer team, and currently works with U21s squad, has also expressed a desire to take charge of the Sbornaya.
Meanwhile, the public are divided, with some fans and experts saying it’s time for a Russian coach to lead the squad, while the other demanded another high-profile foreigner.
Then it was reported that the reigns in the national team will be inherited by Advocaat’s assistant, Alekdandr Borodyk, with his candidacy approved at the highest governmental level.
But no official announcements were made, and Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, set a new deadline for the coach to be named – July 20.
And then the events started to take a truly mysterious turn as Suleyman Kerimov made a statement, which puzzled those present at the RFU’s Board meeting on June 4.
Anzhi’s owner said that Mutko told him in a phone conversation that the contract with the new Russian coach is already signed, but he didn’t specify, who got the job.
RFU’s vice-president, Sergey Kapkov, only told the journalist that the Sbornaya boss is a foreigner.
The next day, legendary Italian manager, Fabio Capello, who left England this May, was awaited in Moscow to sign a deal, but the rumors turned out to be just that.
Then Spartak Moscow’s owner, Leonid Fedun, took the floor, claiming he’s sees Josep Guardiola in charge of Team Russia and is ready to finance his invitation.
And on the night of July 6, Sport-Express newspaper reported that the ex-Barcelona coach is on his way to the Russian capital.