MANCHESTER: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola on Friday (Apr 9) said he was overwhelmed after receiving effusive praise from his Leeds United counterpart Marcelo Bielsa ahead of their Premier League clash on Saturday.
Argentine Bielsa, who steered Leeds back to the top flight after a 16-year absence this season, described Guardiola as a magical man, and said he had given up trying to emulate the Spanish coach's style of play.
Guardiola, who previously hailed Bielsa as one of the most important influences on his trophy-laden managerial career, was quick to return the compliment.
"I'm overwhelmed, I feel weird. He's a huge competitor. I'm not going to try to be weak after these words because they can do whatever they want," Guardiola told a news conference.
"He's the most honest person. He will always be in my heart and I always feel I don't deserve it because of course if there is one person who can find the secret or the way we want to play it is him."
Leeds, who have earned plaudits for their high-energy, attack-minded approach, went toe-to-toe with City in the reverse fixture in October and held them to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road.
Guardiola, whose side need a maximum of 11 points from their remaining seven games to seal the title, expects another stern challenge on Saturday.
"I know how tough it will be, but hopefully we are prepared," he added. "I am looking forward to the game. The players know how difficult it was. Tomorrow will not be an exception."
Guardiola also hailed midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and said the Belgian's decision to sign a contract extension was a testament to the environment the club had put in place.
"I am glad Kevin, who has the world in his hands and can play for anyone, decides to stay with us. It's a big compliment for City," Guardiola said.
"Hopefully we can take a good step forward in the future."