Pep Guardiola names Premier League rival as Man City’s ‘next manager’


Pep Guardiola told Brighton’s players that Roberto De Zerbi will be Manchester City’s next manager, according to reports.

The Seagulls were making plenty of progress under former boss Graham Potter before he decided to join Chelsea, but De Zerbi has since elevated the club to new heights over the last 12 months.

Under the Italian’s tutelage, Brighton secured their highest-ever top-flight finish of sixth place last season, and as a result qualified for the Europa League for the first time in their history.

Brighton have quickly built a reputation as one of the most aesthetically-pleasing sides to watch in the Premier League, despite the loss of a few key players along the way, and their expansive brand of football has seen them particularly excel in front of goal.

The Seagulls have scored 81 goals in 40 Premier League games since De Zerbi’s arrival and have also had the most shots (662) and most shots on target (254) of any top-flight team.

In addition, no club has scored more than Brighton (21) across the first eight Premier League matches of this season – four more than Man City (17) – while their average possession of 61.9% is second only to Guardiola’s side.

According to The Telegraph, after City played at the Amex Stadium in May, Guardiola was speaking of a few of the Brighton players in the tunnel when he nodded in De Zerbi’s direction and said, ‘that’s the next Man City manager’.

The report claims that De Zerbi is ‘greatly admired’ by City’s hierarchy, although the prospect of extending Guardiola’s contract, which expires in the summer of 2025, cannot be ruled out.

Speaking ahead of City’s Premier League clash with Brighton on Saturday, Guardiola reiterated his admiration for De Zerbi and the Italian’s style of play.

The Man City boss revealed that he has kept a keen eye on De Zerbi’s career as a manager, including his spells with Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk before joining Brighton, and has been particularly impressed with the Italian’s stubbornness to stick to his philosophy regardless of the opponent.

“I think I admire him for the fact it doesn’t matter the team he plays, he proved you don’t have to be in a top, top, top club or with top, top exceptional players to make your team play how you like to play,” Guardiola said at a press conference on Friday.

“He came from Italy and the way he plays is a little counter-cultural and it doesn’t matter what happens.

“He plays [with] Sassuolo and teams who may not be considered the top, top, top ones, it doesn’t matter, [we] have the ball we are going to play, to play, to play.

“I’m a spectator mainly as a manager and I enjoy a lot watching his teams play, I learn, like it and what he does makes sense.”

“It’s not a surprise the success his teams have because he is playing deservedly,” Guardiola added. “Even when they lost to Villa, he plays his own style, it doesn’t matter transitions, deflections, Aston Villa, a top side this season for the quality they have with the manager and players, but they do [play], it doesn’t matter.

“Tomorrow will be an example. It will be one of the toughest tests we have this season. We’ll try to go for it.”

Guardiola believes that Brighton’s style under De Zerbi is “unique” and is not the same as his own at Man City, adding: “We don’t play similar way, they are unique for the way they play. We are aggressive without the ball, high pressing, we want the ball like they want it but the way they play they do it.

“Last season was really good (for Brighton) too, that’s why they qualify for Europe. Some decisions against them in the last games could fight for the Champions League. They continue at the same level.”

Brighton, who head into Saturday’s contest having lost each of their last nine league visits to Man City, currently sit sixth in the Premier League table, two points and three places behind the Citizens in third who are seeking to avoid a third successive league defeat.

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