Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has hailed Brighton manager Roberto de Zerbi as “one of the most influential managers in the last 20 years”.
Guardiola has drawn praise over the last week after leading Manchester City to their fifth Premier League title in the last six seasons.
With City also on course to win the Treble this season, Guardiola has been lauded as one of the best managers ever.
However, ahead of facing Brighton he lavished praise on De Zerbi, who took over after Graham Potter’s exit in September and has led the Seagulls to European qualification for the first time in their history.
“There is no team playing the way they play – it’s unique,” Guardiola said of De Zerbi.
“I had the feeling when he arrived the impact he would have in the Premier League would be great – I didn’t expect him to do it in this short space of time.
“He creates 20 or 25 chances per game, better by far than most opponents. He monopolises the ball in a way it hasn’t been for a long time.
“They deserve completely the success they have.”
De Zerbi had coaching spells with Palermo, Benevento and Sassuolo before joining Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in 2021.
He took over at Brighton last summer and as well as their impressive league form oversaw a run to the FA Cup semi-finals.
“If you don’t play at a high level, he can do whatever he wants against you,” added Guardiola.
“They completely deserve the compliments and the success that they have. It’s one of the teams that I try to learn a lot from, it’s unique.
“It’s going to be an incredible challenge for us ahead of the two finals [the Champions League final and FA Cup final].”
Explaining why he has been so impressed with De Zerbi, Guardiola said: “Brighton is a master of passing the ball to a man who is free, but also knowing when to pass the ball.
“They know how to move at the right time. They have the right tempo to pass to the man free.
“How aggressive they are with the ball they continued from Graham Potter because I think he installed something really good.”
City secured the Premier League title at the weekend after Arsenal were beaten by Nottingham Forest.
They finish the league season with games against Brighton and Brentford before facing Manchester United in the FA Cup final on June 3 and Inter Milan in the Champions League final on June 10.
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