Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has lifted the lid on his relationship with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, and mentioned tennis legends Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the process. The two men have regularly been in direct competition for the Premier League title over the last five years – but their rivalry has always played out in an ultra-respectful manner.
Liverpool and City have dominated the Premier League over the last five seasons, with the two teams pushing the other to new heights. The trophy has been shared between them during this time, with the Sky Blues usually coming out on top, winning four titles in comparison to the Reds’ one. However, it looks like this period could be coming to an end this year as the Anfield side enduring a torrid start to the season and Arsenal appear to have stolen their crown as the division’s secondary force.
While many of the biggest rivalries in the history of the Premier League have been characterised by managerial animosity, the same does not exist between Klopp and Guardiola. The pair certainly seem to have have an immense amount of respect for each other.
And Klopp brought up Federer and Nadal when asked about Guardiola. The two tennis icons are famously close friends despite years of battling with each other at the very top of the sport.
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“I could always admit brilliance when I saw it – and in this case, that is the case,” the German said of Guardiola ahead of Sunday’s fixture at Anfield. “Let me say I am not (Roger) Federer and Pep is not (Rafa) Nadal – but they compete on the highest level and are best friends.
“Pep and I are not best friends because we don’t know each other. But I respect him a lot – and I know he respects what we are doing as well.
“You don’t need to be disrespectful just because you are rivals. I would say we have a good relationship without meeting and talking. During the games, we are both competitors but so far we did really well in cutting out all the other stuff.”
Despite this, Klopp also joked that he would like the City boss to take a sabbatical given the success he has brought to the Eithad at the expense of his side. It is believed that his contract in Manchester expires at the end of the season and is yet to sign a new deal, meaning this could be his last season at the club.
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When asked if he would like their rivalry to continue next season given Guardiola’s contract situation the 55-year-old joked: “No, I would prefer Pep is doing a sabbatical for four years – 100 percent! Actually, my preferred solution was that he’d had a sabbatical for the last four years!
“Honestly, it is a joke. I don’t know how often I have to say it, but he is the best manager in the world – and he is proving that every day.
“It’s special what City are doing, really special. And I respect that – but that’s it.”
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