Pep Guardiola has put an end to all uncertainty over Manchester City’s future with a quick stroke of his pen.
His decision to stay at the Etihad for another two years is a huge statement of intent and means the focus will now move away from him and back to his team winning trophies.
Guardiola’s new contract will keep him at the club until 2023 and would mean Guardiola spending seven years at the Etihad Stadium – the same duration as his spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich combined.
The Catalan has long expressed his happiness in Manchester but insisted that he would only sign a new deal if he was convinced that he was still taking the club forward.
“As a manager, I have everything that I need here,” he explained on Thursday. “Of course, all managers depend on results, obviously me as well and we have to win to continue.
“I saw many times in the bad moments how the people here support me.”
Guardiola is the most successful coach in the club’s history, having won two Premier League titles as well as four domestic cups, and seeing out his new deal would see him become City’s longest-serving manager of the last 50 years.
He clearly has the desire to build upon his legacy at City and wrestle back the title from Liverpool in what is now developing into a huge rivalry between two massive clubs.
Despite making his worst-ever start to the season, with City 10th in the Premier League and winning fewer than half of their opening seven matches, he is happy with where his team is at, particularly because of the way in which his squad coped with a raft of injuries and positive coronavirus tests in the opening weeks of the season.
“I am maybe happier than ever, 12 games, we lost one in all competitions,” he said after the 1-1 draw with Liverpool before the international break.
The fortnight break was the last substantial gap in the schedule until March, with City having at least two matches a week until the New Year, making it the perfect opportunity to consider his future.
While he insisted the uncertainty over his next move had not disrupted the squad, the players can now have a clear picture of what the next two-and-a-half years will look like.
Convincing Guardiola to stay was always the club’s priority, even if they had drawn up a shortlist of potential replacements just to be safe.
Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak insisted any talks over an extension would be a “comfortable conversation” and was unsurprisingly delighted at retaining the services of the man he believes to be the best coach in the world.
“Pep’s contract extension is the natural next step in a journey which has evolved over many years,” he said. “It is a product of the mutual trust and respect that exists between him and the entire club.
“It also goes to the stability and creativity at the heart of our football operations.
“Importantly, it is a validation of the football structure and philosophy that has been built over more than a decade and to which he has contributed so much.”
Guardiola has always said that the club could choose to get rid of him but, given his track record and the impact he has made in Manchester, City has never even considered showing him the door.
As well as regularly winning trophies, Guardiola has started to consistently bring through academy players, which has been a long-held desire at City, ever since they invested heavily in the state-of-the-art Etihad Campus.
There is, however, some unfinished business in the Champions League.
Guardiola has never been beyond the quarter-finals stages with City and he has suggested in the past that his reign will be seen as a failure if he doesn’t conquer Europe.
Speculation will now inevitably increase over the possibility of Lionel Messi joining him at the Etihad Stadium, given Guardiola won his only two Champions League titles with the Barcelona forward, in 2009 and 2011.
The Argentine forward has made it clear that he is unhappy at Camp Nou and, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, he is free to talk to clubs in January over a potential free transfer to City next summer.
Messi arguably played his very best football under Guardiola and it would be a dream for the club and the fans to see the pair reunited at the Etihad.
For now, though, they will just be delighted that Guardiola is staying for another two years.