Football News

Pep Guardiola brands young star “one of the best players in the world”

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 15:40, 16 February 2022

Pep Guardiola has branded a young star as one the best players in the world.

Speaking after his Manchester City side demolished Sporting Club de Portugal 0-5 in the Champions League round of 16 first-leg, Guardiola had some words of encouragement for one of the game’s young stars.

“Currently,” Guardiola said; “Matheus Nunes is one of the best players in the world.”

Despite being on the losing side of the match, 23 year-old Matheus Nunes completed 40/46 passes, 3/4 take-ons and even chipped in with 1 tackle and 1 interception. He played well in the face of the City onslaught, but Guardiola’s praise feels hyperbolic.

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Of course this isn’t the first time Guardiola has gone overboard with hyperbolic praise.

Earlier this year the Catalan coach famously declared that Manchester City’s performance in their 1-1 draw against Southampton was their best performance of the season so far (a season which includes a win over PSG, two wins over Chelsea and a dominant display at Anfield).

“This was the best performance of the season – by far,” he said. Despite hitting the target with just 5 of their 20 shots and scoring just once.

Last year saw Guardiola’s most famous piece of hyperbole, of course, when he said that Phil Foden is the most talented player he’s seen as a manager. Now, it’s worth remembering here that Guardiola has coached Kevin De Bruyne, Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski, Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi and, y’know, Lionel Messi.

But no, not them. Foden. “I have said many times in press conferences, but maybe not said it in front of him,” Guardiola exalted; “Phil is the most, most, most talented player I have ever seen in my career as a manager.”

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Three years ago, when Marcelo Bielsa was about to become Leeds manager, Guardiola declared Bielsa to be the best in the world.

“It doesn’t matter how many titles he had in his career. We are judged by that – how much success we have, how many titles we have won,” said Guardiola about the Argentine; “but that is much less influential than how he has influenced football and his football players. That is why, for me, he is the best coach in the world.”

Finally, back in 2013 after his Bayern Munich side beat Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup, Guardiola’s first major bit of hyperbole came when he referred to Philipp Lahm as the smartest player he’d ever coached having just spent four years coaching Messi and Xavi.

“Lahm is the most intelligent player I have ever coached in my career,” said the Catalan. “The challenge to train him makes me happy to be here. Lahm is on another level.”