Pep Guardiola says Burnley boss Vincent Kompany is one of the “biggest legends” he has managed as he prepares to welcome the former Manchester City captain back to Etihad Stadium.
Premier League winners City meet the runaway Championship leaders in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
Kompany, 36, won four Premier League titles during his 11 years at City.
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“He was an incredible figure here. He is one of the biggest legends I have had,” Guardiola said of Kompany.
The 52-year-old joked: “But I am a little bit concerned because when you start to play a game against a player you had on the touchline, you realise how old you are becoming!”
Former Belgium defender Kompany, who left City to join Anderlecht as player-manager in 2019, has made a huge impact since taking charge of Burnley last summer.
The Clarets are 13 points clear at the top of the Championship and need just three wins from their final nine matches to seal a return to the Premier League.
“I am extremely grateful for every moment I’ve been able to experience at Manchester City,” said Kompany.
“But I have to approach this game in the same way I approached every game at Manchester City, which is to do my job and live for that.”
Kompany’s final game as Manchester City captain was the club’s 2019 FA Cup final win over Watford, which secured a domestic treble that year.
His Burnley side has scored 74 goals in 37 league games this season, conceding just 29. They have only lost twice in the Championship – and not since 5 November.
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“From what I have seen, I’m not surprised at all with their position or what they have done in the Championship,” Guardiola said.
“They will be a really tough opponent because they do incredible things on the pitch.
“They’re so close to being a Premier League team. The way they play is exceptional.”
Asked if he believed Kompany might one day return to the club, Guardiola said: “After seeing his team, I’m more than convinced he’s going to come back.
“When? I don’t know, but it’s going to happen,” he added.
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