Pep Guardiola joked that he will sleep better once Jurgen Klopp has left Liverpool – and backed his long-time rival to return to management one day.
Klopp made the shock announcement on Friday morning that he will be quitting Anfield at the end of the season after nine years in charge.
Guardiola joined City a year after Klopp arrived on Merseyside, and the duo have been jostling at the top of English football almost ever since, with the German ending Liverpool’s 30-year wait for the title in 2020.
They had previously locked horns for two years in Germany with Guardiola at Bayern Munich and Klopp in charge of Borussia Dortmund, and have faced each other more than any other manager – a total of 29 times.
The two clubs have since met in the Premier League on 15 occasions in an enduring rivalry which Guardiola once described as “beautiful”, with City winning five matches, Liverpool four and the other six finishing as draws.
Guardiola, whose side currently trail leaders Liverpool by five points but have a game in hand, said: “I will sleep better. Before playing against Liverpool was always a nightmare.
“Of course he will be missed. It was shock to everyone. As Manchester City we will lose something, we cannot define our period without him and without Liverpool.
“He is the best rival I have had in my career. The Premier League will miss his charisma and personality. I wish him all the best.”
Klopp plans to take a year off after leaving Liverpool and then see how he feels but has ruled out a return to management in England.
Guardiola, who took a year-long sabbatical from football after leaving Barcelona in 2012 before taking charge at Bayern Munich, has no doubts that the German will return to the dugout at some point.
The Spaniard added: “He will not admit it but he will be back. I know it. Maybe in 10 years time, when he’s charged his energy. I’m saying this personality will be back. With national team, I don’t know.
“Nine years in the same place, maybe he needs to breathe, to step back. At Barcelona I had that feeling.
“But football needs personalities like him. Hopefully next season we will have time to go out for dinner together.”