Pep Guardiola is undoubtedly one of the biggest legends of the beautiful game, with an immense haul of 29 trophies spanning his 12-year career. During this time, the Spaniard has made over 60 signings across the three clubs that he has managed – Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and now Manchester City. While some of these signings are quite dubious, a majority of them have turned out to be match-winners for the Spaniard, helping him achieve many accolades both personally and at the club level.
We look at those players who performed exceptionally better than the rest, having gone on to script history for themselves under the tactical genius of Guardiola.
Ederson Moraes (Manchester City)
In the summer of 2017-28, Guardiola made some major signings, including Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy, but the arrival of Ederson can be heralded as his best acquisition for the Citizens. After joining Manchester City, Pep Guardiola was quick to replace Joe Hart with Claudio Bravo, who joined him from Barcelona. However, the Chilean shot-stopper failed to impress Guardiola enough to keep his place in the starting lineup. Ederson was a young Brazilian keeper at Benfica when he was brought in to replace the veteran shot-stopper, and instantly created an impact at his new club.
Making just 37 league appearances for the Portuguese side, the arrival of Ederson at the Etihad was a breath of fresh air for Guardiola and his team. His distribution has massively helped Guardiola at City, allowing his team to play a more varied and direct game than ever before. Joining the club during the 2017-18 season, Ederson's strong performances have helped City to two consecutive Premier League titles, keeping 16 clean sheets in his debut season, and improving it to 20 the following season. He won the UEFA Men's Best Goalkeeper award last season as well, after completing the domestic treble of the Carabao Cup, FA Cup as well as the Premier League and becoming the first-ever men's team in England
Dani Alves (Barcelona)
Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona was one of the greatest sides to have graced the football field, with many stars ranging from Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol and Seydou Keita in his team. However, a key component of the Blaugrana was Brazilian right-back Daniel ‘Dani’ Alves.
Signed from Sevilla during the 2008-09 summer transfer window, Alves' forward runs spelt danger for opponent sides. He built a strong partnership alongside Lionel Messi and by the time Guardiola left, he featured 208 times for Barcelona. Over his eight-year spell with Barcelona, Alves made 247 appearances for the Catalan giants and racked up a return of 15 goals and 67 assists for Barcelona, winning a staggering 23 trophies by the time he departed for Juventus in 2016.
Gerard Pique (Barcelona)
Pique has only played for two clubs during his entire career but his exploits with Barcelona make him one of Pep Guardiola’s most prolific signings. He started his career as a Barcelona youth prodigy but decided to join Manchester United in 2004.
After a mediocre spell at Old Trafford however, the academy graduate was brought back to the club by Guardiola in 2008, having the unique distinction of being the first of Guardiola’s signings at Barcelona. Pique went on to establish himself as an integral part of the Catalan coach’s team, as well as the Spanish national team.
His strength and physicality, coupled with his distribution skills made him a perfect fit in Guardiola’s system. Making 183 appearances under Pep Guardiola, the 33-year-old defender is still going strong, having made 336 appearances for Barcelona before the suspension of the league.
Javier Mascherano (Barcelona)
Another masterstroke by Pep Guardiola was the arrival of Javier Mascherano. Signed from Liverpool in 2010, Mascherano was a defensive rock under the Catalan coach and swapped between central defence and defensive midfield roles for Guardiola, a testament of the possession-based gameplay of the former Barcelona manager.
The Argentine maestro was a mainstay in the Barcelona starting lineup and a brilliant servant for the club. Across a period of eight years, he made 334 appearances for the Blaugrana, winning five league titles and two Champions League trophies during his seven-and-a-half-year stint at the club.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Robert Lewandowski is not only among the best signings of Pep Guardiola, he is also one of the shrewdest, having brought in the Polish striker from rivals Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer before the 2014-15 season. This would mark one of the best eras in the history of the Bavarian Giants.
Already a star striker while at Dortmund, the move only cemented his place as one of the best strikers in the world. Over the next six seasons, Lewandowski amassed 276 appearances for the Bavarians, scoring 231 goals. His presence up front for Bayern has been undisputed since his arrival at the club, having scored more than 40 goals for the German giants for the last five consecutive seasons and making it to the Bundesliga Team of the Year as well. He also placed fourth on the Ballon d'Or rankings while playing for Guardiola in 2015.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Lluis Gene