After Manchester City became the first team to defend the Premier League title for a decade, Ernesto Valverde had warm words for Pep Guardiola.

After Manchester City became the first team to defend the Premier League title for a decade, Ernesto Valverde had warm words for Pep Guardiola.

City’s 4-1 win at Brighton and Hove Albion, their 14th straight league victory, held off the challenge from Liverpool by a single point.

Guardiola’s side, therefore, became the first in a decade to successfully defend their crown, while they can complete a domestic clean sweep – never previously achieved in English football – if they beat Watford at Wembley in Saturday’s FA Cup final.

City and Barcelona both suffered Champions League disappointment this season, with Valverde’s side humiliated at the hands of Liverpool after taking a 3-0 lead in the semi-final.

And although Valverde can win a La Liga and Copa del Rey double for the second season running, he feels former Barca boss Guardiola is an example to follow.

Ernesto Valverde Barcelona 2018-19Ernesto Valverde Barcelona 2018-19

“He has done something amazing, not just because of what he is doing and winning the Premier League, but what he has been doing for so long,” Valverde said after Barca beat Champions League hopefuls Getafe on Sunday.

“For me, and I said it back in the day, he’s the best manager in the world and you can learn things from him every single day.

“He has all my congratulations and he still has the possibility of winning another title with his team. We all like him here.”

Barca go into the final weekend of the season 11 points clear of Atletico Madrid, but their latest Champions League exit will cloud the campaign.

Ivan Rakitic was criticised in the wake of their 4-0 Anfield loss after he was pictured at a festival in Seville with his family following the semi-final second leg.

“I have no problem asking for forgiveness,” said Rakitic. “I’m a father and husband and the family is the most important thing.

“I went to Seville to see my family. I’m very open and they asked me for a photo, but on the pitch, I give 100 per cent and I want the best for the club.”

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