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Manchester City director receives heartfelt thank you from Pep Guardiola following recent signing



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Txiki Begiristain – Manchester City’s sporting director – was subject to a personal thank you during Pep Guardiola’s post-Liverpool press conference on Saturday afternoon.

That concerned the Premier League champions’ successful recruitment of versatile centre-back Manuel Akanji, who joined the club from Borussia Dortmund during the closing stages of the 2022 summer transfer window.

Akanji became the second player to sign from the Black and Yellow side in Germany during the same transfer market after Erling Haaland, and had a similar transformational effect during his debut season for Manchester City in his own regard.

The recent round of Premier League action saw another stellar performance from the former FC Basel man, as he shone in a defensive midfield position against Jurgen Klopp’s high-pressing Liverpool side at the Etihad Stadium.

Speaking after the 1-1 draw against the Merseyside club, manager Pep Guardiola was keen to praise the individual performance of Manuel Akanji after the Swiss international operated in defensive midfield alongside Rodri – a role often occupied by John Stones or Rico Lewis.

Guardiola admitted, “Today I’m really pleased because Manu (Akanji) starts to play in that position (defensive midfield). Yesterday (Friday) we spent a lot of time, the day before, the way you have to move against Liverpool, and Manu and Rodri was… Oh my god, it was a masterpiece from them.

“They played incredible because they moved in the right tempo, in the right moment, they look at eachother, they break the lines, they contact with the wingers – it was really, really, really good. Manu, hats off. The game in Chelsea was the same, the best…

Guardiola continued, “I know the man of the pitch was Jeremy (Doku), man of the match was Jeremy, but at Stamford Bridge and today, Manu was unbelievable.”

The glowing praise for the Swiss international did not stop, as Pep Guardiola went on to issue a personal, public thank you to the club’s sporting director Txiki Begiristain, whom the Catalan head coach works closely with to sound out the next best talent for City’s first-team operation.

“What a signing the club has done with that guy, what a signing,” Pep Guardiola exclaimed. “He can play at full-back, he can play central defender, now can play holding midfielder, when he arrives in the final third he has the ability to make passes, he’s fast, he’s strong, what a player Txiki (Begiristain) has brought me here!”

Akanji is expected to play a similarly significant role during the coming months of the business half of the 2023/24 season, as he did during the last campaign that ultimately saw Manchester City claim a historic Treble.