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Pep Guardiola hints at Manchester City exit next season after claiming fourth title in a row

Pep Guardiola looks at the Premier League trophy
Pep Guardiola admits it can be hard to find fresh motivation when you have won everything - Getty Images/Michael Regan

Pep Guardiola admitted he is closer to leaving Manchester City than staying after watching his side claim an unprecedented fourth Premier League title that he believes eclipses the great Liverpool and Manchester United sides.

City’s 3-1 victory over West Ham United at the Etihad Stadium secured their sixth title in seven seasons under Guardiola and ended Arsenal’s dream of a first championship in two decades.

Guardiola is out of contract next summer and the City manager hinted that next season could yet be his last at the club after eight trophy-laden years, which included winning the Treble last term.

“The reality is I am closer to leaving than staying,” he said. “We have talked with the club – my feeling is that I want to stay now. I will stay next season and during the season we will talk. But [after] eight or nine years, we will see.”

Asked if he felt like he had “completed English football” and what there was left for him to achieve, Guardiola added: “I had that season last year after [winning the Champions League to complete the Treble in] Istanbul. I said: ‘It’s over, there’s nothing left.’ But I have a contract, I’m still here.

“Some of the moments I’m a bit tired but some of the moments I love and we are here winning games, looking good with new players. I started to think about [how] no one had done four in a row [so] why don’t we try? And now I feel it’s done, so what next? FA Cup [final against United on Saturday].

“Gary Lineker told me that no team has done back to back Premier Leagues and FA Cups.

“What I want is for my players to enjoy two or three days and then we have two days to prepare the final but right now I don’t know what exactly the motivation is to do it because it’s difficult to find it when everything is done.

“But knowing the players and myself I know that when we are there we will say why should we not win today? Why should we not work as much as possible to do what we have to do? And I know we are going to do it.”

Liverpool, Arsenal, Huddersfield Town and Manchester United, twice, were the only other English clubs to have won three successive league titles but Guardiola says City’s “insane” numbers and record fourth-consecutive crown point to them being the best of the lot.

“In terms of numbers, nobody has been better than us – the records, the goals, the points and four in a row,” he said. “If I land here tomorrow and you say I will win six Premier Leagues in seven years, I would say ‘Are you crazy?’. It’s impossible. When I moved here if someone had said I would win six leagues in seven seasons I would say ‘You’re insane – no way’.

“We have done something unbelievable. For fans from Liverpool, from [Bill] Shankly and [Bob] Paisley and all the players, Ian Rush, Graeme Souness. For their fans Liverpool will always be the best team.

“From Sir Alex Ferguson [at United] he had that incredible period with Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville, Roy Keane, [Paul] Scholes, [Ryan] Giggs, [David] Beckham, [Dwight] Yorke and [Andy] Cole and [Michael] Carrick and for them [United fans] they will always be the best team. And I’m pretty sure for our fans for this period we are the best.”

Two goals from Phil Foden and one from Rodri were enough to see off West Ham but Guardiola believes that Arsenal – who claimed a last gasp 2-1 win over Evertonare not going away and warned City that they would have to strengthen in the transfer window this summer.

“Before it was Liverpool to push our limits and now it was Arsenal,” he said. “I want to congratulate them from the depths of my heart for Mikel [Arteta], his staff and players. They have had an incredible season. I feel it and they push us to our best like before.

“We got the message from Mikel and his players. We have to make the right decisions in the next years because they are here to stay. He [Arteta] is young. You see Declan Rice, [Martin] Odegaard, [William] Saliba, Gabriel, [Kai] Havertz and [Bukayo] Saka. They are so young and have experience in the Champions League. For two years they were close. We compete incredibly well and again and for a little margin we won it.”

Arteta: we will win Premier League

In an address to the Emirates Stadium crowd after the full-time whistle, Arteta and Arsenal captain Odegaard both vowed that the team would be back stronger next year.

“I can’t wait to come back,” said Odegaard. “We have to use the break to come back even stronger, even more hungry, and push to win everything.”

Arteta told the Arsenal fans: “We want much more than this, and we are going to get it.”

The Arsenal manager later congratulated City and described Guardiola’s side as “the best team in the history of the Premier League by far”.

He added: “No one has to explain what the level is because I was there [at City] and I know what we have to do if we are going to reach there. Not only for one season, but for the rest.

“But we are on the right path, the right journey. Now we need to really pull the teeth and bite into it because we really want more.

“The way they [his players] compete, the way they talk about the future, the way they talk about what we’re capable of doing as a team, I sense a real belief there and they are really determined. Before, I didn’t have that feeling that we really want to win and we’re going to look in the eyes of every opponent. Now I feel that.

“If we do what we have to do, we’re going to be closer and at the end we’ll win it. When, I don’t know. But if we keep knocking and being that close, in the end it will happen.”

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