BERLIN, December 17- Bayern Munich’s flagging stars admit they are relishing the chance to rest during the forthcoming winter break when they discover whether Pep Guardiola will stay or go at the end of the season.
Guardiola’s current three-year contract expires next June and Bayern’s head coach has said he will announce “before Christmas” whether he will extend his stay or leave, having been linked to a host of English clubs.
Guardiola has stayed tight-lipped, giving no indication either way as to what he will decide, but Spanish sports daily Marca reported on Wednesday that Guardiola has already told the Bayern directors that he will leave at the end of the season.
According to the Madrid-based paper, Guardiola believes both he and the club would benefit from a change of scenery due to his intense work ethic that can wear players down.
Last month, Barcelona daily Sport claimed Guardiola had already given his word to former Barca colleagues Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, now Manchester City’s chief executive and director of football respectively, that he will join them at the Etihad next season.
Bayern laboured to a 1-0 German Cup win over Darmstadt on Tuesday, thanks to a spectacular Xabi Alonso volley, to book their place in the quarter-finals and keep alive their dreams of winning the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and cup titles this season.
The Bavarian giants hold a five-point lead in the German league ahead of their final game of 2015 at Hanover 96 on Saturday, but the sense of anticipation is building in the Bayern squad over Guardiola’s impending announcement.
“I can’t look inside his head and I’m excited about the decision,” said Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has said he will do all he can to keep the Spaniard in Munich.
On behalf of the squad, Bayern captain Philipp Lahm has already told Guardiola, who has won 19 titles as coach of either Barcelona or Bayern, he should extend his stay.
“I have already said all there is to say. What I believe or think doesn’t really matter now,” said Lahm.
Darmstadt coach Dirk Schuster says he hopes Guardiola, 44, remains in Germany’s top flight, for the sake of the league.
“He’s a world-class coach and it does the Bundesliga good having him here,” said Schuster.
Having laboured to a 2-0 league win over Ingolstadt on Saturday, Bayern again struggled on Tuesday with several players out injured.
“That wasn’t a gala performance, but we can live with that,” said Bayern forward Thomas Mueller.
He said the squad is looking forward to the winter break which starts on Sunday and lasts until Friday January 22, when Bayern are at Hamburg.
“The state of the players isn’t particularly good and we were able to rotate in the last few weeks, which has shown in the team performance,” he added.
“Of course, we’re looking forward to the winter break and we’re finding it a bit hard at the moment.”