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10 football players who flopped under Pep Guardiola managerial helm

10 football players who flopped under Pep Guardiola manegerial helm

Pep Guardiola will be remembered as one of the most influential individuals in football history, and for some, the game’s greatest manager ever.

Guardiola’s brilliance as a master tactician who has transformed teams wherever he has been cannot be overstated.

He understands the game like few others and, more importantly, is able to transfer that understanding into outcomes on the field.

He began his managerial career with Barcelona B in 2007, when he led them to the Tercera Division title in his first and only season before being promoted to the first team a year later.

Four years of revolutionary football followed, establishing Barcelona as the world’s most powerful club outfit with a patented style of passing play capable of decimating any opponent while nurturing some of the game’s best players.

Since then, he’s added to his trophy cabinet and enhanced his legacy with Bayern Munich and, most recently, Manchester City, which he has established as a consistently top-tier club capable of competing with Europe’s best.

But, despite the romanticism surrounding Guardiola’s tremendous career and legacy in the beautiful game, nothing is ever perfect. Not everyone saw him as their prophet, and not everyone he coached benefited from his teachings. In some cases, just the reverse.

Sportsdias recounts ten players who failed under Guardiola in this list.

10. Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich)

Costa’s one and only season in Germany under Guardiola wasn’t bad, but his four goals and 14 Bundesliga assists weren’t enough to impress the manager.

Costa arrived with even more fanfare, but was immediately demoted to a rotation role in the seasons that followed. 

Maybe they needed a little more time together to get him firing properly.

9. Danilo (Manchester City)

Every summer at Manchester City, Guardiola spends money on full backs.

Danilo was yet another full back with a dynamic profile who he hoped would round out his team in 2017. He wasn’t. He appeared to be out of his depth and was gone two years later.

8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Barcelona)

It’s difficult to label Ibrahimovic a flop or a failure because he was productive under Guardiola at Barcelona, but the two did not get along. At all.

Guardiola would move Ibrahimovic outside to a wide berth to accommodate Lionel Messi, which he would not accept. 

Since Ibrahimovic’s departure from La Blaugrana in 2010, the two have virtually been feuding.

7. Nolito (Manchester City)

Nolito was signed in Guardiola’s first season as manager at the Etihad, and while he wasn’t anticipated to become a world beater, it was expected that he would fit in much better than he did.

The Spaniard struggled to adapt to Premier League football and, after becoming homesick, moved to La Liga with Sevilla after only one season in Manchester. Pep’s experiment failed.

6. Ferran Torres (Manchester City)

No, Torres is not a clone of Nolito, as unlikely as that may appear. 

Their paths at City were somewhat similar, however Torres arrived with more expectations placed on him.

He joined the club in 2020 for a cost of roughly £20.8 million, although despite a promising start, he struggled to secure a starting berth.

The following season, much to City’s astonishment, he left for Barcelona for €55 million.

5. Martin Caceres (Barcelona)

Caceres joined Barcelona from Villarreal in Guardiola’s first summer as manager, and the club quickly inserted a €50 million buyout provision in his contract, seeing him as a potential player.

He failed to strengthen up the defence, though, and soon looked below the required level, falling all the way down the pecking order before quitting in 2011. A poor start in the transfer market.

4. Yaya Toure (Barcelona)

Toure signed the season before Guardiola took over the first team and was regarded as one of the most talented midfielders in the game, but Guardiola just did not like him.

As a result of being pressed to make an effect from a limited role with Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets all ahead of him in the pecking order, his form dropped. 

He was sold in 2010 and has since spoken about his disagreements with Guardiola, with whom he did not agree.

3. Alexander Hleb (Barcelona)

Hleb rose to prominence at Arsenal in the mid-2000s, looking every inch the world-class attacking midfielder who sat just behind the striker.

Guardiola brought him to Barcelona in his first summer as manager, but he was unable to fire him.

Hleb struggled spectacularly, failing to score in his first season and never receiving a look after that before departing for a journeyman career in 2012.

2. Mario Gotze (Bayern Munich)

In 2013, Bayern Munich and Guardiola made Gotze the most expensive German player ever, and while his first season was a success, he struggled to remain a major role in the team.

Despite his efforts, Gotze’s form faded, and he was swiftly forgotten in the seasons that followed, particularly after scoring the game-winning goal in the 2014 World Cup. 

He was sold back to Borussia Dortmund in 2016, having failed to live up to his potential.

1. Claudio Bravo (Manchester City)

Bravo’s stint at Manchester City was terrible. He was a player who could have defined Guardiola’s term at the club had he failed.

He went from being the world’s number one to being a laughingstock in England.

Bravo was unable to instil his passing game from the start, which is why Guardiola had exiled Joe Hart in the first place.

By the end of the 2016/17 season, his stock had plummeted, Guardiola required a new number one, and Bravo had been moved out.

Congratulations to him for seeing this and correcting it before it became a serious problem.


10 football players who flopped under Pep Guardiola manegerial helm

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