Pep Guardiola could see the headlines coming a mile off when he was asked whether he would like to manage England one day.

“No, no, no… Gareth Southgate is doing an incredible job,” the Manchester City manager replied amid an often jovial pre-match briefing for Sunday’s game against West Ham.

“He extended the contract? Congratulations!”

Nevertheless, Pep again stated his desire to take charge of a national team at some point in his career.

“I said many times that when we finish our path here, the pleasure to live a World Cup… I would like to live it,” he said.

Guardiola certainly would not be short of offers and we picked out the posts below that, in their own way, would feel like perfect matches.

England

It was put to Pep that it would be a “no-brainer” for him to take the reins from Southgate whenever the time comes, and you can certainly see the logic.

City’s and therefore Guardiola’s stamp is all over the Three Lions. Against Hungary in October, five of the starting XI were drawn from the Premier League champions.

That’s before we consider Guardiola’s wider impact on English football and coaches at all levels taking and adapting elements of his signature style. His love of football in this country has only deepened over the past five years and it would feel like a logical next step.

Gareth Southgate is reaping the benefits of Pep Guardiola's work with Phil Foden.
Gareth Southgate is reaping the benefits of Pep Guardiola's work with Phil Foden

Spain

Guardiola played 47 times for Spain between 1992 and 2001, although a fallout with coach Javier Clemente meant he missed Euro 96 and a serious calf injury ruled him out of the 1998 World Cup.

His full debut, versus Northern Ireland in a goalless World Cup qualifier in October 1992, came after he starred in the team that won an emotional gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

However, as we will discuss below, Guardiola coaching the country he represented for almost a decade is a little more complicated than that synopsis suggests…

Netherlands

As the leading football disciple of Johan Cruyff, there would be an undeniable romanticism to Pep leading the Oranje.

Dutch football has moved back towards its Total Football roots over recent years after the hard-headed pragmatism that led them to the 2010 World Cup final and the semi-finals four years later.

It would certainly be nice to have a City association with one of Europe’s most famous sides other than Nigel de Jong smashing his studs into Xabi Alonso’s rib cage! Much as we all love you, Nige.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 11: Nigel De Jong of the Netherlands tackles Xabi Alonso of Spain during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Nigel de Jong introduced himself to Spain's Xabi Alonso in an unforgettable fashion during the 2010 World Cup final

Argentina

The window is closing on any prospect of Guardiola leading Lionel Messi at international level and, from a City point of view, you would hope it shuts entirely as Pep prolongs his stay in Manchester beyond 2023.

But his affinity for a football crazy nation runs far deeper than an association with his most famous pupil.

In October 2006, after winding down his playing career, Guardiola embarked on something of a voyage of discovery in Argentina - famously spending hours at Marcelo Bielsa’s ranch discussing football over barbecued meets, while he also sought the counsel of 1978 World Cup-winning coach Cesar Menotti.

“He did not come to Argentina to ask how it was done,” Menotti said, offering a seal of approval. “He already knew his stuff.”

Brazil

But Guardiola is not a loyalist of any kind when it comes to South America’s biggest footballing rivalry. He also adores Brazil and, from Romario to Fernandinho, has been associated with many of the nation’s finest throughout his playing and coaching career.

Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) speaks with Manchester City's Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho as he leaves th epitch after picking up an injury during the UEFA Champions League football Group C match between Manchester City and Porto at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on October 21, 2020.
Fernandinho is one of numerous Brazilian players who have thrived under Pep Guardiola

“Pep could manage the Brazil team perfectly - and I am convinced he would improve it,” Pep’s former assistant Domenec Torrent told Globoesporte last year.

“Pep has a special feeling for Brazilian players. He has worked with Brazilians at Barcelona, Bayern [Munich] and City. In fact, he has a preference for Brazilians because they are very versatile and can adapt to any type of football.”

Catalonia

Although many of the choices above qualify as romantic, this post would be particularly special for Pep.

Firstly, it should be noted that Catalonia are not affiliated to FIFA or UEFA so cannot participate in major competitions. Nevertheless, they have played exhibition and friendly matches for more than a century.

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Between 2009 and 2013 they were led by Guardiola’s great mentor Cruyff and Pep - a supporter of Catalan independence - turned out for the side five times between 2005 and 2015.

It is his political stance over a place Guardiola always refers to as “my country”, along with his prominent support for Catalan self-determination over recent years, that would arguably complicate any path to the Spain job.

Which national team would you like to see Pep Guardiola coach? Follow our City Is Ours editor Dom Farrell on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.