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Pep Guardiola believes Marcelo Bielsa is the best in the business

PepBielsa (1)

Pep Guardiola claims he still has some way to go to match the stature of Marcelo Bielsa in the world game.

The Manchester City manager has often spoken of how he has regarded the veteran Argentinian coach as an inspiration throughout his career.

The pair meet for the first time in England on Saturday as Guardiola takes his City side to Bielsa’s Leeds, who are back in the Premier League this season after a 16-year absence.

“He is probably the person I admire the most in world football – as a manager and as a person,” said Guardiola.

“I think he is the most authentic manager all the time, in terms of how he conducts his teams, he is unique. Nobody can imitate him, it’s impossible, especially his behaviour as a person off the pitch.

“When I get the pleasure to spend time with him, it’s always inspirational for me. The value of the manager does not depend on how many titles or prizes you won. It is about his knowledge as a manager.

“My teams won more titles than him, but in terms of knowledge of the game and many things in training sessions, I am still a way from him.”

Bielsa won league titles in Argentina before going on to manage his national team and Chile. He also took charge of clubs in Spain and France before guiding Leeds to their long-awaited promotion.

Guardiola said: “It is a good present, a good gift, to have him here in the Premier League because his teams are always a joy to watch.

“They always want to attack and produce some good football for spectators. That is good news for England.”

Leeds have made a positive impression in the top flight, losing narrowly 4-3 to champions Liverpool before claiming victories over Fulham and Sheffield United.

City’s start has been a mixed affair with a solid victory at Wolves followed by a shock 5-2 hammering by Leicester last week.

Marcelo Bielsa guided Leeds back to the Premier League after 16 years away

Marcelo Bielsa guided Leeds back to the Premier League after 16 years away (Alex Livesey/PA)

Guardiola is not expecting things to get easier this weekend.

He said: “They are a team that knows exactly what they have to do. They fight and run. They run with a lot of people in the box and defend with a lot of people in the box.

“They have a good build-up and arrive in the right moments with a lot of players. They’re a good team, like all the Marcelo teams.

“I played three times in Barcelona against Bilbao and all the games were so difficult.”

The spotlight will be on referees this weekend after a number of controversial handball incidents in Premier League games so far this season.

The handball rule has been at the centre of a number of controversies in the early part of the season

The handball rule has been at the centre of a number of controversies in the early part of the season (Andrew Boyers/PA)

Guardiola was pleased to hear reports that the Premier League is to change its interpretation of some aspects of the handball law, while considering lobbying lawmakers for other parts to be changed.

He said: “Football is an unpredictable game – the hand from Eric Dier, the one from Brighton against (Manchester) United, West Ham against Arsenal.

“Everyone knows if there is an intentional hand or when it is absolutely unintentional, when one guy jumping in the box and after the deflection it hits the hand.

“You get a penalty that, honestly, is quite ridiculous, but hopefully the referees and managers can decide the best for the game, to be most fair.”