Eight league titles, eight domestic trophies, two Champions Leagues – Pep Guardiola has achieved a lot in his years as a manager.
It’s the Catalan’s 50th birthday on the day of writing, and what better way to celebrate than by having a look at some of his best ever players?
Without any further ado, here is Pep Guardiola’s best squad.
Manuel Neuer (GK) – Guardiola’s teams have always needed a good ball-playing goalkeeper, and no one epitomises that quite like Neuer. An excellent shot stopper, technically impressive, quick off his line, reliable – the German has established himself as one of the game’s greatest ever goalkeepers over the past decade.
Dani Alves (RB) – With a terrific engine and a rocket of a right foot, Alves was one of the world’s top right-backs for many years. The Brazilian made 208 appearances under Guardiola, winning 14 trophies during that four-year spell.
Vincent Kompany (CB) – Kompany’s later years at City were hindered by injuries, but that’s not to say he didn’t have an impact. The captain helped Manchester City to two league titles under Guardiola, most notably with his screamer against Leicester City in 2019.
Carles Puyol (CB) – Despite being in the swansong years of his playing career, Puyol was still an exceptional footballer. The centre-back was the captain of arguably the greatest ever club side, leading from the heart of defence.
David Alaba (LB) – The Austrian has played all sorts of positions in his career, but it was as a left-back where he made his name. Just 21 years old when Guardiola arrived, Alaba was already one of the world’s finest full-backs, and continued that form over the next three years.
Philipp Lahm (CDM) – Having played most of his career as a full-back, Lahm made the transition into midfield after the arrival of Guardiola. He was once labelled “perhaps the most intelligent player I have ever coached in my career” by his former boss.
Xavi (CM) – One of the greatest midfielders of all time, Xavi was the beating heart of Guardiola’s Barcelona side. Incredibly composed and a brilliant passer of a ball, the little Spaniard regularly controlled games at the Camp Nou.
Andres Iniesta (CM) – You can’t have one without the other. Lining up alongside Xavi is iconic midfield partner Andres Iniesta. It is unlikely that we will ever see a better central midfield pairing than these two.
Kevin De Bruyne (CAM) – Yes, I know that Guardiola has never played this formation before, but just let me have it, okay?
The Belgian has been a shining light when Man City have been below-par, and has been a standout when they’ve been on their game. He is undoubtedly the league’s best midfielder, and is starting to make a case for being one of the best that the Premier League has ever seen.
Lionel Messi (CF) – Well…duh.
Messi is undeniably one of the best players to ever grace the beautiful game, and it was under Pep Guardiola that he was at his most productive. In 2011/12, the Argentine scored 73 goals in 60 appearances, smashing all sorts of records in the process.
Robert Lewandowski (ST) – Completing the starting XI is Bayern Munich bagsman Robert Lewandowski. The Poland international netted 67 goals in exactly 100 appearances under Guardiola.
Ederson (GK) – When you’re talking about goalkeepers who are good with their feet, you simply can’t ignore Ederson. The Man City man is capable of picking a 70-yard pass unlike any other goalkeeper in the game. Furthermore, his shot-stopping ability and speed off his line make him one of the world’s best.
Gerard Pique (CB) – Despite rarely appearing at Manchester United, Guardiola showed great faith in Pique, bringing him to the Camp Nou. Pique quickly repaid this faith with a number of impressive performances at the back.
Sergio Busquets (CDM) – Guardiola has given a few players their professional debuts, but none of them can match up to Sergio Busquets. The Spaniard was a crucial part of the Barcelona midfield that dominated for so long.
Arjen Robben (RM) – Robben was one of the world’s top wingers for many years, and it was under Guardiola that he had his best goalscoring season. The former Chelsea man netted 17 Bundesliga goals in 2014/15, despite only playing 21 games due to injury.
Franck Ribery (LM) – Another one of modern football’s most iconic duos joins the squad, as Franck Ribery joins Robben on the bench. The Frenchman came third in the Ballon d’Or during Guardiola’s opening months at Bayern Munich, finishing behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Samuel Eto’o (ST) – Eto’o only played one season under Guardiola, but it was arguably the best campaign of his career. The Cameroonian bagged 36 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions, including the opener against Manchester United in the Champions League final.
However, he was shipped off to Inter Milan that summer in exchange for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Eto’o has since said that he “loves him (Guardiola) as a coach, but not as a person.”
Sergio Aguero (ST) – The Argentine will go down as one of Man City’s best ever players, having broken the club’s all time goal record. During Guardiola’s reign, he has netted an incredible 120 goals in 171 appearances.