This one seems rather an easy choice. After all, the greatest goalkeeper in the world would have to be the best goalkeeper Pep’s ever managed. The goalkeeper has in every sense revolutionised the art of goalkeeping with his style. Playing the sweeper role, Neuer helped Bayern play their expansive football while Joachim Low also enjoyed Neuer’s playing style as Germany won the World Cup in 2014. Such has been the level of Neuer’sperformances; it has seen Pep Guardiola struggle with other goalkeepers. Neuer’s style has been the benchmark for other goalkeepers, in which the likes of Hart and Bravo have failed. Ederson will be the next in line to try and impress Pep Guardiola.
The Brazilian beats off Phillip Lahm for a place in this last. Lahm, regarded as one of the finest full backs ever, was praised by Guardiola who claimed Lahm was the most intelligent player he had ever managed. However, since Guardiola often used Lahm in the midfield, Dani Alves gets the nod. The Brazilian has been a menace ever since he left Sevilla to join Barca in 2008. He won three Champions League titles under Guardiola. In fact, Alves’ career at Barca went on the downward spiral since Guardiola’s departure. After a year at Juve, Alves was tipped to join Guardiola at Manchester City; however, he signed for PSG in the end. Alves even apologised to Guardiola after his move to PSG.
The Spanish defender was a warrior for Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. Puyol’s ability to organise the defence made him an indispensable figure for the Catalans. One of the finest defenders of all time, Puyol was at the heart of Spain’s success in Euro’08 and World Cup’10, scoring the crucial header in the semi final against Germany. Now retired, Puyol is the agent of the Borussia Dortmund defender, Marc Bartra.
Gerard Pique remains one of the most consistent and divisive figures in the world football. His acrimonious relationship with Sergio Ramos is often the topic of the debate. While Pique has his troubles off the pitch, on the pitch, the defender is a leader for the Catalans. Pique has had no drop in quality despite Barca’s struggles in finding an able partner for the defender. He has won 4-time Champions League title with Barcelona since joining the club from Manchester United in ’08.
The Austrian’s qualities were evident even before Guardiola arrived in Germany. He had been a prominent figure during Bayern’s treble winning season. As expected, Guardiolaimproved Alaba’s game even further. Guardiola put Alaba’s versatility to great use deploying him in the midfield and at the heart of the defence. After Marcelo, Alaba is easily the best left-back in the modern game. Guardiola’s affliction with Alaba saw Manchester City linked with a move for the brilliant Austrian.
Busquets was one of the first players Guardiola brought from his Barcelona B side when he took over the Catalans. Like Guardiola, Busquets too possessed a skinny figure and like the Spaniard manager, Busquets’ biggest strength was his awareness. Guardiola used him as the deepest lying midfielder, using Busquets’ passing range to control the game. Busquets’ consistency has seen him reach the pinnacle of the world football, winning two European Championships, a World Cup and four Champions league titles.
Xavi was the brains behind Barcelona’s success under Guardiola. He epitomised the tiki-taka style with his brilliant close control. Xavi used his creativity and intelligence alongside the ever impressive Iniesta as the duo formed one of the most beautiful midfielders’ pairing the world had ever seen. He won a massive 30 trophies during his career at Barcelona, winning every major trophy on offer both in the international and domestic stage.
Robben has gotten better with age. The Dutchman has shaved off his injury struggles in recent seasons to become a quintessential player for the Bavarian giants. Despite being criticised for his predictable style of play, Robben is still unstoppable despite his age. The attacker had his best season under Pep Guardiola scoring 17 goals and assisting seven. Such was his importance that his absence was cited as one of the biggest reasons why Bayern failed to defeat Barcelona in the semi-finals of Champions League in 2014/15 season.
Kevin De Bruyne
One of the most underrated players, De Bruyne, has quickly become the most important figure for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. De Bruyne’s qualities impressed Guardiola during the Belgian’s time at Wolfsburg as the Spaniard tried to bring him to Bayern. Nevertheless, De Bruyne ended up at City where Pep would eventually take over. Under Guardiola, De Bruyne was the most consistent performer. His ability to perform in the big games was evident in the derby against Manchester United as he ran riot in the United half.
One of the best midfielders ever to grace the beautiful game, Andres Iniesta blossomed under Pep Guardiola. It was Iniesta’s brilliance that mesmerised both Guardiola and Xavi, who claimed that Iniesta was here to dominate. And their prediction has turned out to be true, with Iniesta winning every major title on offer. He scored the winning goal in the World Cup final of 2010, while was also the man of the match in the Champions League final of 2014/15 against Juventus. Last season saw Iniesta’s ability wane a little; that being said, he still has a few good years ahead of him before he hangs up his boots.
While Lewandowski does provide a tempting option given his outstanding return of goals under Pep, Lionel Messi’s performances under Guardiola were truly out of this world. It was Messi’s brilliance that kept the likes of David Villa, Ibrahimovic either on the wings or on the bench under Guardiola. Pep’s fascination of playing with false number 9 reached its apogee with Lionel Messi. He consistently managed to score 30+ goals in each season under Guardiola. He won four Ballon d’Or trophies between 2009-2012, three of which came under Guardiola. Even now, Messi is often linked with a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, but safe to say, they are just rumours.