Pep Guardiola has refuted allegations from Zlatan Ibrahimovic claiming that the Spaniard was a spineless coward.
Ibrahimovic slammed Guardiola in his book ‘I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic,’ saying his time in Barcelona was a disaster only because of the manager.
In his book, he wrote: “Because of Guardiola’s problem, the club were forced to do a disastrous deal to sell me — it was crazy. I’d scored 22 goals and 15 assists during my season at Barcelona. Yet I’d lost nearly 70 per cent of my value. Whose fault was that? Guardiola, the quiet little over-thinker, had tried to wreck me.”
However, the now Manchester City manager has claimed that he was always clear and direct with the striker.
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Ahead of the Manchester Derby, where the pair will go head to head, he said in his press conference: “Ibrahimovic used his book to explain what he believes, he had some things to say. Always I was clear. Whatever I said to him I spoke face to face. I never used the media to explain what I wanted from him on the pitch.
“I have a lot of respect for Zlatan and what he has done in the football world and his career,” Guardiola said. “He has had a big impact everywhere he has been and he is an amazing talent, one of the best around. The best players always have an impact. The big players always bring their talent to a club immediately. You can see they don’t need time to adapt to a new league or understand another country.”
Despite the City manager’s attempts to play down the pair’s frosty relationship, Ibrahimovic showed no signs of holding back.
Also speaking ahead of the Derby, Zlatan took an indirect jab at Pep by stating: “He (Mourinho) is direct with everyone. He will not go behind your back, he will tell you. I prefer it like that.
“Wherever Guardiola has gone he has won and he has been very successful. How he works today, I don’t know and I don’t care because he is not my coach.”