Pep Guardiola has backed Ilkay Gundogan to follow in his footsteps and become a manager once he hangs up his boots.
Gundogan has been a regular fixture in Guardiola’s first-team since joining Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund in 2016, with the 31-year-old set to make his 150th Premier League appearance for the club against rivals Manchester United on Sunday.
The suave midfield maestro has racked up an impressive 33 top-flight goals in that time, which currently makes him the joint-highest scoring German in Premier League history. A goal in this weekend’s Manchester derby would move him as the division’s outright most prolific German.
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Cool under pressure, slick with his passing distribution and integral to the way City hog the ball and recycle possession, Gundogan is one of the fundamental arteries of Guardiola’s system at the Etihad — and it would appear there is much more to him than pure technical brilliance alone.
When pressed on who he feels has the capacity to move into the dugout once the curtain comes down on their playing career, Guardiola was under no illusion when he instantly put forward Gundogan’s name, believing the midfielder has all the tools to make it upstairs.
“I think Gundogan will be,” Guardiola responded when posed the question.
“Midfield players have a chance to be managers, and players who think of the game of football as a whole, not just thinking of me, me, me. When these guys start to understand the game as a group, as a whole, they have the challenge to be a manager.”
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When pressed a little further on what key attribute a coach must have to get the best out of his squad, Guardiola suggested the ability to keep harmony among the fringe players in the squad.
“Handling the guys who are not selected,” he said of the most important manager trait.
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“If you are able to have the group more or less as a unit and handle well the guys that don’t play, you will be happy in your job. If it’s turmoil in the locker room, a mess in the locker room, nothing to do. You will not be happy, and no success.”