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Pep mentor Lillo leaves China with reports over Man City link

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FILE PHOTO: former Almeria’s coach Juanma Lillo (L) and former Barcelona’s coach Josep Guardiola leave the pitch at the end of their Spanish first division soccer match at Juegos Mediterraneos stadium in Almeria, November 20, 2010. REUTERS/Francisco Bonilla (SPAIN – Tags: SPORT SOCCER)/File Photo

Pep Guardiola’s former boss Juanma Lillo left his post in the Chinese Super League on Friday with reports saying he could be Manchester City’s next assistant coach.

Qingdao Huanghai said Lillo had departed as head coach because his mother was “seriously ill in Spain and needed urgent care”.

But Marca in Spain said the 54-year-old was poised to fill the void left at Premier League club City, who have been without a number two to Guardiola since Mikel Arteta joined Arsenal in December.

Lillo began his long coaching career in the 1980s and has gone on to manage more than a dozen teams, mostly in his home country.

He and fellow Spaniard Guardiola teamed up in Mexico towards the end of Guardiola’s playing career.

According to The New York Times in 2016, Lillo described the now-City manager as “one of the most important people in my life, like a son to me”.

Lillo joined Qingdao in August 2019 and, with former Barcelona and City veteran Yaya Toure in his team, took the club to the second-division title last season.


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