I assume most Chelsea fans are familiar with how the Eden Hazard transfer saga shook out. About this time last year, the Belgian ace announced that he'd be leaving LOSC in the summer to move to England, but he left the door open for a handful of teams to chase him. That sparked an amusing chase for Ligue 1's best player, with Hazard repeatedly dropping hints that he was going to sign with one side or another before finally picking us in the aftermath of events at Munich*.
*Seriously, how incredible was that week?
And now we're getting the managerial version of Hazard's little exercise in trolling. The most coveted coach in football is on the hunt for a new job, and it's clear that he could very well have his pick of teams. So why not indulge in some fun before deciding on an ultimate destination? Say hello, Pep Guardiola:
I've always found English football very fascinating, for the environment, the crowd and the supporters. In Italy, Latin people will support you when you are playing and when you lose, they kill you. In England I'm always surprised that people always support everything and that is nice. That's why, maybe, I hope to have the challenge or the opportunity to train there.
As a player, I couldn't realise my dream to play there. But I hope in the future I have a challenge to be a coach or a manager there and feel the experience of all the coaches and players that have been there. It is unique, to play in that league. The support is amazing. I want to feel the supporters, the environment, the media and the style of the players and everything. I am still young, just 41, so I hope in the future I could be able to train there and enjoy that.
I'm a cynic about these things, but even I found myself dragged into this little narrative. People in England always support everything and that's nice? Is there some subtext there regarding Chelsea fans and their special relationship with Rafa Benitez? Is Pep coming to the Premier League? Ahhhhh so many questions!
There are more than a few football supporters who don't think particularly highly of the former Barcelona coach, citing the fact that his sides were always packed full of absurd talent. I sympathise, although I don't fall into that camp.
Guardiola had to completely rethink Barcelona's game upon arrival (they weren't great before him, remember?) as well as instill a team-first spirit that's been so effective that Xavi Hernandez resembles a brainwashed automaton in interviews. You'd be hard-pressed to find a player with bad things to say about him who isn't Zlatan Ibrahimovich, and Zlatan probably despises Pep because it's the cool thing to do. Zlatan is cool.
Anyway, these quotes don't even say that Guardiola is going to take a job in the Premier League this summer. The man's left things delightfully ambiguous. He's 41! There are many jobs ahead of him unless he goes all Sir Alex Ferguson somewhere, which doesn't really seem like his style.
What's more interesting than the quotes themselves is the utter frenzy talk of Guardiola seems to inspire in people. A Sky Italia report that he would be signing with Bayern Munich led to much merriment on Twitter, and I guarantee that these quotes will do the same. He and his representatives have the footballing media -- writers and readers -- in the palm of their collective hand, and it looks like they're loving it.
We're being played, y'all. And yet... it's so hard to look away.