The Belgian playmaker has been in scintillating form in the 2021/22 campaign and has bagged seven goals in his last 10 games in all competitions with crucial strikes in City’s hunt for Premier League and Champions League glory.
Speaking ahead of Saturday evening’s trip to Leeds, Guardiola highlighted the importance of his attacking midfielder’s contribution but added his exceptional level of performance is nothing new.
“He’s so important,” he declared. “He is the best in the world in this kind of running and transition.
“He can run and break the space for the opponent. It’s devastating. He is really, really good.
“Everyone knows it – this isn’t the first season he’s played in the Premier League.”
With Liverpool playing Newcastle in the weekend’s early kick-off, the Anfield side could leapfrog City into top spot in the table but Guardiola asserts the Merseysiders’ results have no bearing on his side’s desire to claim maximum points from our remaining games.
“We will know the result,” he said. “The feeling when you are four, five, six points ahead is different but one point… What is the alternative?
“We have to win, otherwise they will be first. We always talk about consequences but I never talk about this. I focus on what we have to do to beat Leeds. I have watched the last games of Leeds and what they do…
“They play quite similar to when Jesse Marsch was at RB Leipzig with the battles, the quality of the players upfront, the influence of Kalvin Phillips, the 'keeper, how they make a build-up, which rhythm they play, what happens when the ball is on the sides, the runners… I focus on that and said to the players what they have to do, where the spaces are, how they defend... They defend tight, high, they can do a low block, they shift a lot, the space is here: right and left...
“And after that, I tell them: 'Guys, we have scored 12 goals in three games.”
Guardiola added the players know exactly what is at stake in the coming weeks and says the squad are fully focused on their task, ensuring they are in the best possible shape and remaining calm.
“Sometimes it looks like just the managers know what we are playing for,” he continued. “The players know better than me what they are playing for because they have ran for 11 months to arrive in the Finals and try to win the Premier League.
“I was more worried as a football player. I felt more responsibility than right now. Here, I cannot do anything. I cannot win tomorrow's game, I am not going to lose it either.
“As a football player, I felt I could influence what is going to happen. I would visualise the game, focus on my body, imagine situations when I have the ball and think what I should do. The older I got, the more relaxed I was. At the beginning, I was anxious, nervous.
“Experience doesn't pass to others. What happened for me suited me. Everyone has to live their own experience and life. Otherwise it would be boring. You have to live it yourself, that's nice.
“Right now, I don't have that feeling. That's why I am more relaxed, more comfortable.
“What I want [from them] right now in this period is to arrive as fresh as possible in our minds, souls, legs... all the parts of our bodies. The little details, the principles…
“Remember a few things and remember things what opponents do, and be fresh. Enjoy today, go home, stay with family, sleep a lot, eat good dinners...
“Tomorrow, we take a coach – one hour and 15 minutes to Leeds and we try to play the game. We have been here many times.
“I know these players. We can lose but forget what they are doing?! No, forget about it.”