Pep Guardiola believes Ruben Dias’ leadership qualities have been vital since the Portuguese defender arrived at City in 2020.

Dias made an instant impact at the Etihad Stadium, winning the 2020/21 Premier League Player of the Season and Football Writers’ Award and has remained essential to Guardiola‘s plans.

The 25-year-old returned from this winter’s World Cup with a hamstring injury but since his recovery has played every minute in our last eight matches.

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The Blues are on a run of four successive clean sheets across all competitions for the first time this season, with Dias imperious in each.

In the midst of his impressive form, our boss has praised the impact his No.3 has had on the rest of the side.

“Ruben is not playing just his game. He is playing the game for everyone,” he said.

“He has the ability to see and solve the problems for many things. His character is so important. His leadership is huge especially even when he didn’t play.

“You should see the impact before the game, at half time or full time when he didn’t play. He behaved the same when he was playing. That make you deserve to be captain. His character is really important.

“For training he arrives two hours before, leaves two hours after. He lives 24 hours for his profession.”

While it was injury that kept Dias sidelined after the World Cup, he was named on the bench in our final three Premier League games before the season’s hiatus.

Upon his return to fitness, he was eased back into the fray before his current run of excellent form.

Guardiola insists that even during his brief spells out of the starting XI, Dias’ attitude has been exemplary.

He said: “In that moment, my mistake or not, I decided that other players with a specific movement are a little better. If it’s about what the team needs, he should play every single game.

“When he doesn’t play, nothing changes. There are many things that you can do to help the team. When that happens and then you go on the pitch, it helps you play good.”

Protecting the goal is a prerequisite for any defender but Dias’ willingness to put his body on the line draws similarities to former Club captain Vincent Kompany, who returns to the Etihad on Saturday with Championship leaders Burnley.

Dias often celebrates those tackles, blocks or headers with the passion of a goalscorer, an aspect of his character that Guardiola admires.

“Body language, gestures, these kind of things are so important in football,” he added.

“Since day one they have been there. He is always positive.

“Every time he forgets about a mistake he has done and thinks about the next action. He is always there for the next one. His mentality is top.

“That’s why he can play central defender in a top, top club like Manchester City.”


City welcome Burnley to the Etihad Stadium at 17:45 (UK) on Saturday 18 March and you can follow the match across and the official app.

We will start live updates at 15:45 on our Matchday Centre and that will run throughout the afternoon.

Our Matchday Live programme will begin shortly before team news arrives at 16:45. With guests David James, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joleon Lescott giving their insight.

During the game, Alistair Mann and Andy Morrison will talk you through proceedings with our radio commentary offering.

Afterwards, we will bring you all the reaction from the Etihad Stadium before short and extended highlights are available from noon on Sunday.

CITY+ subscribers can also watch the entire 90 minutes back from midnight.