Pep Guardiola is on his way to Manchester City from Bayern Munich… but what have the greats of the game said about him? 

Pep Guardiola has been confirmed as Manchester City’s next manager with the Spanish boss beginning a three-year deal after he leaves Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

While former pupils at Barcelona Xavi and Lionel Messi have spoken of their great relationship with their ex-coach, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Yaya Toure have been highly critical of the 45-year-old.

Sportsmail takes a look at what football’s greats have said about Guardiola.

Jose Mourinho has famously been highly critical of 45-year-old Spanish manager, Pep Guardiola

Jose Mourinho has famously been highly critical of 45-year-old Spanish manager, Pep Guardiola

Yaya Toure: ‘Whenever I asked him something, he always gave strange answers. He pretty much ignored me until City’s offer came in. 

‘That’s why I eventually opted to leave. I didn’t speak to Guardiola for a year. If he had talked to me, I would have stayed at Barcelona. 

‘I did not want to go and wanted to end my career at Barcelona. However, he had no faith in me.’ ONA FM, February 2014.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: ‘[Jose Mourinho] would text me all the time at Inter, wondering how I was doing. He’s the exact opposite of Pep Guardiola.

‘If Mourinho lights up a room, Guardiola draws the curtains. I guessed that Guardiola was trying to match up to him.’ I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic, late 2011.

Lionel Messi: ‘We had a great time when Pep was here. We won a lot of titles and I grew a lot – that was the time when I grew most as a footballer. 

‘We had a fantastic relationship when he was here.

‘Since Pep left, we haven’t really seen each other – apart from an event for FIFA but apart from that we haven’t kept the relationship going. We had a good relationship but we’re not in contact.’ Press conference, May 2015.

Lionel Messi has said of Guardiola's time at Barcelona: 'We had a fantastic relationship when he was here'

Lionel Messi has said of Guardiola’s time at Barcelona: ‘We had a fantastic relationship when he was here’

Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘I had dinner with Pep Guardiola in New York in 2012, but couldn’t make him any direct proposal because retirement was not on my agenda at that point.

‘He had already won an enviable number of trophies with Barcelona…and I admired him greatly. 

‘I asked Pep to phone me before he accepted an offer from another club, but he didn’t and wound up joining Bayern Munich in July 2013.’ Leading, September 2015.

Robert Lewandowski: ‘I know Pep can improve a team in England. I think he knows where he’s going and he knows what he needs to do with the team he’s going to, so that they play much better. 

‘He will focus on technique and perhaps more possession than is the norm in England. 

‘But Pep knows the Premier League is different from the Spanish league or the Bundesliga but I’m sure he can do something new in terms of tactics and technique.’ Sportsmail, January 2016.

Robert Lewandowski told Sportsmail recently: 'I know Pep can improve a team in England'

Robert Lewandowski told Sportsmail recently: ‘I know Pep can improve a team in England’

Neymar: ‘Guardiola is a guy that I really admire and who I would love to work with. It’s tough to say if I want to play in other countries. 

‘Nobody knows tomorrow, but I’m very happy where I am right now, at Barcelona.

‘I have the will to go back to Brazil some day and I also would like to play in the USA, those two countries are two where I want to play later on my career.’ Red Bull, January 2016.

Xavi: ‘I never got noticed at Barca until Pep became my coach. They never really noticed me until 2008 when I had already been here for 10 years.

‘[Louis] Van Gaal gave me my debut but when he left in 2001 it changed and if you look at the record books it’s laughable because I almost became obsolete.

‘I was mocked as the being the guy who just moved the ball from one side of the pitch to the other.’ El Periodico, May 2015.

Xavi said of Guardiola as Blaugrana boss: 'I never got noticed at Barca until Pep became my coach'

Xavi said of Guardiola as Blaugrana boss: ‘I never got noticed at Barca until Pep became my coach’

Jose Mourinho: ‘We have started a new cycle. Up until now there was a very small group of coaches who didn’t talk about referees and a very large group, in which I am included, who criticise referees. 

‘Now, with Pep’s comments, we have started a new era with a third group, featuring only one person, a man who criticises the referee when he makes good decisions. This is completely new to me.’ Press conference, April 2011.

Steven Gerrard: ‘Pep Guardiola is a world-class manager. It’s looking like he is going to be coming to the Premier League which is great for us.’ Press conference, January 2016.  

Luis Figo: ‘Pep [Guardiola] is like a brother. He helped me when I came to Barcelona [from Sporting Lisbon in 1995]. 

‘He is a Godfather to one of my daughters.’ Marca, April 2011.

Luis Figo (left) stands next to Pep Guardiola (right) in April 2000, both holding black Nike footballs

Luis Figo (left) stands next to Pep Guardiola (right) in April 2000, both holding black Nike footballs

Zinedine Zidane: ‘You shouldn’t make comparisons with me and Guardiola. He has achieved incredible things. 

‘Guardiola is a fantastic coach and what he is doing is very impressive. Guardiola is Guardiola. I will do my best.

‘I will not compare myself with anyone. I never did it as a player and I won’t do it now.’ Press conference, January 2016.

Lothar Matthaus: ‘I have criticised Pep a few times in the past, but I have to admit that he has been doing a great job. 

‘People always expect you to win the Bundesliga title, but you still have to deliver.

‘Bayern want him to stay because they are happy with him. They would not be satisfied if he didn’t do a good job.

‘I would give him an eight out of 10. It would even have been a nine had they won the DFB Pokal last season.’ TZ, September 2015. 

Mesut Ozil: ‘I know him from the matches against Barca, but not personally. I’ve never spoken to him.

‘When you see the number of trophies he’s won, that speaks for itself.’ Marca, January 2013.


1: As a youngster doing ball-boy duties, Guardiola was once refused an autograph by Michel Platini, when he offered a poster of the Frenchman which had adorned Guardiola’s childhood wall.

2: Guardiola is an art lover, and spent much of his sabbatical in New York – after leaving Barcelona – around the galleries of the Big Apple.

3: Guardiola’s clothing has made headlines in the past. He wore a T-shirt in a pre-match press conference last season ahead of the Champions League clash with Porto carrying a slogan promoting a campaign for justice surrounding the death of an Argentine journalist. Guardiola then celebrated Bayern’s come-from-behind victory over Porto just that little bit too much, causing a noticeable tear down one side of his trousers. He has famous company on that front at least in David Moyes and Jose Mourinho.

4: Speaking of clothes, Guardiola’s relationship with wife Cristina Serra grew around the latter’s family clothes shop in Manresa, in Spain’s north east.

5: A love of smart clothes naturally translates to a love of…. golf. A keen player, Guardiola attended the 2012 ‘Miracle in Medinah’ on the invitation of Europe’s Ryder Cup captain and compatriot Jose Maria Olazabal.

6: Aside from his playing career in Europe, Guardiola spent time with Al Ahly of Qatar and then Dorados de Sinaloa of Mexico, which proved his swansong.

7: Guardiola does not conduct one-on-one interviews – only press conferences.

8: Guardiola is from the small Catalan town of Santpedor in north-east Spain. In honour of Guardiola’s achievements, the home ground of local team Santpedor was given the name Camp Municipal Josep Guardiola.

9: The municipal council also named Guardiola their ‘favourite son of the town’ in October 2009.

10: When preparing for life in Germany, Guardiola reportedly spent hours with a German teacher while in New York. He gave parts of his first Bayern Munich press conference in German.


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