The Spanish tactician has coached title-winning sides of FC Barcelona, FC Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola has undoubtedly been one of the most successful managers in European football since the turn of the century. He has garnered incredible success in every club that he has managed. One of the major reasons behind his persistent triumphs has been the continuity that he believes in putting out the starting XIs on the field.
There are several players who consistently feature in his teams, and here we look at the top ten footballers who have played the most number of games under Guardiola’s tutelage.
10. Kevin De Bruyne – 168 matches
Kevin de Bruyne’s career saw a sudden turn in fortunes once Pep Guardiola took him under his wings and worked closely on his further progress in career. The Belgian international has been a vital cog in Manchester City’s midfield and was instrumental to their twin Premier League titles.
He could play on the right side of the midfield trio and even further up on the pitch. It is his vastly improved vision and passing range that shows shades of how Guardiola has honed de Bruyne’s skills. The 28-year-old has scored 34 goals and assisted on 73 occasions in the 168 matches that he has played under the Spanish manager.
9. Andres Iniesta – 181 matches
Andres Iniesta was the key creator-in-chief as his sublime passing skills and the ability to create goal-scoring chances made him an important member of the legendary FC Barcelona team from 2008-2012.
He represented the club on 181 instances when Guardiola was the manager and assisted 53 goals back then. In addition to that, Iniesta also scored 23 goals and quite literally ran the show from the midfield for the team.
8. Raheem Sterling – 183 matches
Raheem Sterling’s efficiency in front of the goal has enhanced massively ever since the former Barcelona midfielder took over the reins at Manchester City. The forward has 78 goals to his name in the 183 appearances during the current boss’ regime.
Moreover, his technical gameplay and the ability to set up chances for his teammates are reflected from the 62 assists that he has made during this time. These numbers and statistics look set to upgrade as the player-manager duo continue to stay at the club furthermore.
7. Gerard Pique – 183 matches
Gerard Pique and Raheem Sterling have both made 183 outings for their respective clubs with Pep Guardiola in-charge. Pique was sort of an up and coming central defender during that point in time, wherein he partnered Carles Puyol at the heart of the backline.
He played a key role in building attacking moves from the back through his slick, accurate passing abilities. Pique was also a threat from set-pieces as he notched 12 goals for his team during those four years.
6. Seydou Keita – 188 matches
Seydou Keita was a central midfielder who played for FC Barcelona for four seasons from 2008-2012. The Mali international made a whopping 188 appearances under Guardiola’s managerial stint across seven different competitions. He was versatile enough to operate in both deeper as well as slightly higher up roles. Keita scored 22 goals and bagged 15 assists too. Later on, he left the Catalans to join the Chinese Super League side Dalian Aerbin FC.
5. Sergio Busquets – 191 matches
Pep Guardiola sort of revolutionized Sergio Busquets’ role in his tenure with the club. Playing in front of the defensive line, Busquets completely changed the discourse of a defensive midfielder.
He relied more on his reading and genuine understanding of the game to intercept and break the opposition team’s offensive moves. Moreover, he was key to recovering and recycling the possession in that Barcelona side’s setup. Busquets played 191 matches for Guardiola over four campaigns and assisted 12 goals too.
4. Victor Valdes – 200 matches
The gameplay of FC Barcelona used to initiate from the goalkeeper, whose passing abilities on the ground was critical to that side’s success. Hence, it is no surprise that Victor Valdes went on to represent the club on 200 occasions over four seasons and in seven competitions.
His tendency to commence attacking moves right from goal-kicks presented a newer dimension to the role of a goalkeeper as custodians were reduced to being a shot-stopper earlier. The responsibilities that Valdes carried out at Barcelona are currently replicated by Ederson at Manchester City.
3. Xavi – 208 matches
Xavi and Andres Iniesta formed the supply chain for the forwards to capitalize upon during that remarkable period for the Blaugrana. The midfielder played 208 matches in Guardiola’s watch during those years and assisted an incredible 81 goals.
He regularly pounced upon chances too and that resulted in the 36 goals that he scored in those matches. Without Xavi’s contributions, the 14 trophies in four seasons would have possibly been a distant dream for Pep Guardiola and the club too.
2. Dani Alves – 208 matches
He also scored 15 goals and was a livewire down the flank, through which his crosses and lateral passes were utilized by the side’s forwards. He claimed an important responsibility by adding another attacking output through the wings, and was an instrumental member of that team.
1. Lionel Messi – 219 matches
The years that Lionel Messi spent under Pep Guardiola’s wings displayed to the world the majestic potential of this maestro. Needless to say, he is the player most utilized by the revered manager in his career spanning across three major clubs. Messi played 219 matches for the now 49-year-old and scored 211 goals in those games.
Additionally, he assisted further 90 goals and was probably the most crucial player that stimulated Barcelona’s success back then. The Argentine won the Ballon d’Or each year from 2009 to 2012, which further solidifies the fact that Guardiola honed him to arguably become the most prominent and peerless footballer in the world.