Victory for Manchester City against Chelsea at the weekend means Pep Guardiola’s side are a maximum of four wins away from sealing the Premier League title.
They have run away at the top of the table this season, losing just once, and it will mean a seventh league title for the Catalonian as a manager.
It will also mean he is a league winner in England, Germany and Spain and he has overseen some fantastic sides since taking the reins of the first team at Barca in 2008.
We have decided to look at the players he has managed, putting together an all-time XI.
It wasn’t easy, but George Pitts and Tom Carnduff have put together a strong-looking XI – and hear them out on some of the more controversial inclusions.
All-time XI of footballers who have played for Pep Guardiola
GK: Manuel Neuer
Guardiola has been in charge of some fine goalkeepers, with Victor Valdes on top form at Barcelona and Ederson Moraes currently proving to be a top-class signing from Benfica, but Neuer gets the nod here.
The Bayern Munich stopper, currently sidelined with a metatarsal fracture, is one of the world’s best in his position.
Neuer has all the attributes – he commands his box, is an excellent shot-stopper and great with his feet as he plays the ‘sweeper keeper’ role better than anybody.
Guardiola’s fine 2015/16 Bundesliga-winning team conceded just 17 goals in 34 games and Neuer was a key reason behind that.
It will be a shame if the Germany captain is unable to regain fitness in time for the World Cup, but Die Mannschaft have the likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp in reserve. (GP)
RB: Philipp Lahm
There is no doubt that Lahm was one of the best in his position, even comfortably adapting to a midfield role given by Guardiola. He’s captained his country to World Cup success whilst also leading Bayern to various titles domestically.
As full-backs go, Lahm will go down as one of football’s greatest for his contributions in recent years. Right-back is often a difficult position for clubs to recruit, with only a few who are truly world class in the position. For Guardiola, it was a blessing to inherit a side with someone of Lahm’s ability.
Whilst he came up against fierce competition from Dani Alves for a place in this side, Lahm’s leadership makes him a starter for me. His success on the world stage sets him apart from the rest, and he was a key figure in a Bayern side who have dominated the German league. His legacy at the club is one that will last for many years to come. (TC)
CB: Jerome Boateng
Like Lahm, Guardiola possessed another World Cup winner in Jerome Boateng during his time at Bayern Munich. The 29-year-old triumphed with Germany, alongside lifting the Champions League trophy, the Bundesliga title and the DFB Pokal as well.
His achievements stretch outside of Deutschland as well, with Boateng being a part of Manchester City’s FA Cup winning side back in 2011. He is one of world football’s elite centre-backs and has been a part of a solid Bayern Munich defence that has been top European contenders in recent seasons. Boateng played a key part in Guardiola’s success during his time at the Allianz Arena. (TC)
CB: Carles Puyol
Unsurprisingly, Carles Puyol is a guaranteed feature in this side. The centre-back, who spent his entire career at FC Barcelona having come through the club’s youth set-up, has won pretty much all there is to win in world football.
He captained Spain during their period of international dominance, which saw them win both the World Cup and the European Championships, alongside numerous LaLiga, Copa del Rey and Champions League titles during his 18 years as a senior player.
His iconic haircut is instantly recognisable with every football fan and most have fond memories of watching Puyol in years gone-by. There’s no debate that Puyol deserves a spot in Guardiola’s all-star XI. (TC)
LB: Fabian Delph
Now this is the huge wildcard selection in this team, but it comes with reason as we look to find the best players that Pep has coached in each position from each club.
Whilst Guardiola inherited the likes of David Alaba and Eric Abidal at Bayern and Barca respectively, the situation at Manchester City required an overhaul to get them to where they are now. In the left-back position, Guardiola signed Benjamin Mendy from Monaco, only for injury to rule him out for most of the campaign.
As he has done on a couple of occasions, the natural choice would be to play Danilo there. Instead, Guardiola elected to select central midfielder Delph in the position, transforming him into a reliable part of this unstoppable City side. His performances have prevented the former Real Madrid man from getting into the starting XI, with injury and recent suspension the only way of granting him Delph’s starting spot.
It’d be easy to, as let’s be honest City have done, spend significant amounts in bringing in players, but the ability to develop a player from one position into a solid feature in another is the signal of a great coach. For me, given the circumstances and the resulting City performances, Delph gets a spot in this side. (TC)
CM: Kevin De Bruyne
The Belgian playmaker has been unplayable this term, just ahead of David Silva in the race for the third midfield slot. He is 6/1 with Sky Bet to win the 2018 Ballon d’Or and is a deserving candidate.
He tops the charts for assists in the Premier League this term with 14 and he has been worth every penny of the £55million fee City paid to Wolfsburg in 2015.
A likeable character as well, De Bruyne has the vision and ability to execute passes perfectly and under Guardiola his performances have gone to the next level. (GP)
A key component in one of the best teams of all time at both club and international level, Xavi was one of Guardiola’s most reliable and consistent players during their Barcelona days.
The 38-year-old, now in Qatar with Al Sadd, has won an incredible 31 trophies – eight of them LaLiga titles, four Champions Leagues, a World Cup and two European Championships.
He was the top assist provider in LaLiga in 2008/09 and 2009/10 and developed a formidable partnership with Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta in a midfield that took the workload off the front three.
He assisted Lionel Messi for a total of 31 goals and was the heartbeat of Barcelona’s tiki-taka side. (GP)
CM: Andres Iniesta
The most successful Spanish footballer in history, Iniesta, like Xavi, was a key part of Spain and Barcelona’s dominant era.
Although he cannot play as many minutes as he has done in the past, the 33-year-old is still important in Ernesto Valverde’s side. The ultimate midfielder of his generation, with the ability to perform his defensive duties as well as carrying the ball forward, scoring and providing defence-splitting passes to his team-mates.
At his peak, he would get into any starting XI in world football. A true great of this era who excelled under Guardiola’s management. (GP)
RW: Lionel Messi
The most obvious choice in this side comes in the form of FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.
The world’s greatest player continues to go from strength-to-strength and struck his 600th career goal in the victory over Atletico Madrid at the weekend.
He’s scored 539 goals for his club and added a further 61 for Argentina on the international stage, a remarkable achievement from someone who is a joy to watch.
He’s won the FIFA Ballon d’Or accolade on five occasions, alongside the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award a further three times. Add in the four Champions League titles he has achieved, alongside a number of other club honours, and it’s not hard to see why he is one of the greatest footballers to have played the game. (TC)
CF: Sergio Aguero
The Manchester City forward has proved to be one of the world’s best strikers during his time in England.
He’s a regular in the City line-up and has scored a number of crucial goals down the years, most notably a last-gasp winner against QPR to hand City their first Premier League title on the final day of the 2011/12 campaign. Now the club's all-time scorer, he is just one goal away from his 200th for the Citizens.
He's continued to go from strength-to-strength under Guardiola and is a pivotal part of one of the finest teams that English football has seen. Much like Messi, Aguero’s involvement in this team required little debate. (TC)
LW: Thierry Henry
The pair were together after Henry made the switch to Barcelona from Arsenal back in 2007. Whilst at the LaLiga giants, Henry and Guardiola would go onto win Champions League title in 2009, alongside the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in the same year.
His performances at Arsenal made him one of the best forwards to have played in the Premier League, and he was a part of the France squad that lifted the World Cup in their own country in 1998.
With Aguero and Messi sure starters in this side, Henry isn’t far behind and completes a deadly trio of forwards to have been coached under Guardiola. (TC)