Pep Guardiola has a habit of making big statements about players he admires.
And after last night’s Champions League last-16 clash between Juventus and Bayern Munich, Guardiola reserved some special - and somewhat unexpected - praise for Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci.
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While the 28-year-old Italy international is a decent centre-back, it was a surprise to hear Guardiola name him as one of his “all-time favourite players”.
Perhaps Pep is considering bringing the former Inter Milan and Bari defender to Manchester City this summer.
Guardiola: Bonucci is an all-time favourite
"The result is what it is,” Guardiola was quoted as saying by the Mirror after the match. “I know that in Italy you are about physical condition. I don't give a f*** for the physical condition. It's the mental question that I care about.
"I didn't expect to come here and expect Juve not to shoot on target, or that we would play 90 fantastic minutes.
"They have players like (Mario) Mandzukic, (Paul) Pogba and (Leonardo) Bonucci, one of my all-time favourite players. And we showed character."
Is Bonucci underrated?
Bonucci has enjoyed plenty of success with Juventus since joining the Old Lady in 2010 - including four Serie A titles - and is perhaps a little underrated.
If asked to name the world’s best centre-back, your average clued-up football fan would probably choose Thiago Silva, Mats Hummels, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane or Vincent Kompany over the Italian.
In fact, only those who follow Serie A closely would probably mention Bonucci.
Clearly, then, Guardiola likes to keep an eye on all of Europe’s top domestic leagues - not just La Liga, the Bundesliga and the Premier League.
Man City may require another top centre-back
The revered Catalan coach may feel that centre-back is a position that needs strengthening when he takes over from Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium this summer.
Kompany turns 30 in April but still has plenty to offer, while Nicolas Otamendi has blown hot and cold following his summer move from Valencia.
And then there’s Eliaquim Mangala, the 25-year-old who is understood to have cost City as much as £42 million. The French centre-back clearly possesses plenty of talent but is prone to making errors.
Guardiola may feel that he is unable to trust Mangala to bring the ball out from defence and pick out teammates with passes.
And if that’s the case, it will come as no surprise if Manchester City cash in on the Frenchman before the start of the 2016-17 campaign.
Would Leonardo Bonucci be a good signing for Man City? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
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