One of the most shrewd and forthright tacticians in football presently, Pep Guardiola has laid the founding stones of confidence in innumerable players over the course of his managerial career. They dictated how the game should be played, earning the status of footballing legends.

Guardiola’s tantalising ability to make players meet their best selves has propelled them to eternity. Here we list out the five top players who blossomed under the Spanish manager.   

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

After an underwhelming performance in his first season at Manchester City, Raheem Sterling embraced Guardiola’s arrival at Manchester City with arms wide open.

The Spanish manager envisioned something bigger and better for Sterling after he was left in tatters due to his poor show in the 2016 UEFA Euro Cup.

Guardiola deployed him on the left flank, using his pace and agility to ingrain him in his swift football system. Since the start of 2017/18 Premier League season, Sterling has scored 35 goals for City and provided crucial assists. He was instrumental in City’s treble-winning season, and has improved his rate of making more key passes lately.

Sergio Busquets (Barcelona)

Sergio Busquets was a pivotal character in Barcelona’s midfield during Guardiola’s era. The 48-year-old manager had his eyes on Busquets when he was coaching Barcelona’s B side.

Witnessing his calm composure, outstanding ball control and accurate vision on the pitch, Guardiola handed Busquets his La Liga debut at the Camp Nou during his first season in charge.

Guardiola’s faith paid off as Busquets fit well in Barcelona’s system of swift passing and controlling the ball. Busquets is now the engine that keeps the Barcelona’s midfield ticking, and holds the key for the Catalan giants.

Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

During his tenure as Bayern Munich’s manager, the Spanish manager discovered Joshua Kimmich. A natural midfielder whose abilities allowed him to move forward with intent of providing crucial passes into the box, was given a position as a centre-back.

Guardiola wanted to develop an all-round player after witnessing Kimmich in action, and during his last season at Bayern, he made sure that the German worked hard for it. He was also confronted by the Spaniard after a 0-0 draw against Borussia Dortmund.

This exchange between the player and the manager was full of intensity, denoting Guardiola’s liking for the German.

Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

De Bruyne was City’s most important player during their record-breaking title win in 2017-18. Operating under Guardiola, Kevin let the horrors of Chelsea slip past him and adopted a lethal role of central midfielder.

All the footballing pundits praised the Spaniard for reinventing and transforming Kevin into one of the most innovative players of modern-day football. The Belgian continues to lead the way for the Citizens under Guardiola’s protection.

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Lionel Messi wreaked havoc under Guardiola and became the greatest of all time. Deploying him as a ‘False nine’ worked wonders and brought innumerable goals and titles for Guardiola from 2008 to 2012, including a treble in 2009.

Messi adjusted insanely well to Guardiola’s ‘tiki-taka’ and paved the way for the new era of football that his manager always wanted to see.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Oli Scarff