'He's the best coach in the world' - Guardiola hails Bielsa

The Argentine should be judged on the influence he has had throughout his career and not on the number of titles he has won, the Catalan says

Pep Guardiola has hailed Marcelo Bielsa as the best coach in the world after it was confirmed the influential tactician will return to football with Ligue 1 side Lille next season.

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Former Argentina, Chile and Athletic Bilbao boss Bielsa has agreed a two-year deal from 2017-18 in what will be his first assignment since controversially leaving Lazio after only two days in charge last July,

Guardiola has long identified Biesla's intricate and innovative tactical plans as a major influence upon his own approach, and the Manchester City manager was effusive in his praise of the 61-year-old ahead of Tuesday's Champions League match at the Etihad Stadium versus Monaco – the team leading the way in France's top division.

"My admiration for Marcelo Bielsa is huge because he makes the players much, much better," said Guardiola.

"Still, I didn't meet one guy, a former player from Marcelo Biesla who speaks no good about him.

"They are grateful about his influence on their careers in football.

"He helped me a lot with his advice. Whenever I speak with him I always feel like he wants to help me."

Bielsa's three league titles in his native Argentina and an Olympic gold medal leading his homeland in 2004 are the sum of his major honours in the game, but serial trophy winner Guardiola believes that is a blunt way in which to measure his mentor's influence.

"It is important for me to say this about Marcelo because it doesn't matter how many titles he had in his career," the Spaniard added. "We are judged by that – how much success we have, how many titles we have won.

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"But that is much less influential than how he has influenced football and his football players.

"That is why, for me, he is the best coach in the world. I am looking forward to seeing him in Lille next season.

"I am pretty sure his influence on their team, their club and their players will be huge – amazing. I am pretty sure of that."