Pep hails England's 'fantastic generation'

Pep Guardiola believes England have a “fantastic generation” of players who can deliver success for the next decade.

Gareth Southgate led England to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and will look to improve on that finish at this summer’s European Championships.

Guardiola believes England are set up to succeed over the long term, as the Premier League continues to go from strength to strength.

“When you see the English national team, you say ‘wow, what a team’,” the Manchester City manager told Sky Sports News.

“Gareth (Southgate) has incredible solutions at the back, in the middle and up front. They are a fantastic group and generation of football players.

“English football is getting better and better every season. I think English football has to be so proud about the quality of football they play and the players they have. It is nice to watch a Premier League game.”

Southgate has a wealth of attacking options at his disposal.

Six of the Premier League’s top eight scorers are English – Jamie Vardy, Danny Ings, Marcus Rashford, Tammy Abraham, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling. Each has scored at least 11 league goals this season.

Guardiola believes England’s attacking talent is the envy of Europe.

“From holding midfield to up front, you say ‘wow’. There are 12 or 14 players who could play in the important teams in Europe without a problem,” Guardiola said.

“They have fantastic players and talented young players for the next decade.

“If they take care of themselves, they can have big success for English football for the next decade.”

‘Grealish is an exceptional player’

Manchester City travel to Villa Park on Sunday to take on Aston Villa, live on Sky Sports Premier League.

Guardiola has been impressed with Dean Smith’s newly-promoted side this season, particularly captain Jack Grealish, who has caught the Spaniard’s eye with his creativity in the final third.

“They have quality. They bought a lot of players. They have quality up front, especially Jack Grealish in terms of his ability to find solutions in the 18-yard box,” Guardiola said.

“Always his solutions in the 18-yard box – whether to make a final pass or shoot – are so clever.

“I had a lot of information about his quality in the past and I think he has overcome expectations that maybe I had or other people had.

“He is an exceptional player.”

Pep: City planning summer changes

Guardiola is not expecting City to be active in the January transfer market but has admitted big changes could be coming in the summer as the club looks to address shortcomings in a squad which has fallen 14 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, who have a game in hand.

He admits he has already held discussions with City director of football Txiki Begiristain but says he is waiting to see if any players ask to leave at the end of the season before finalising any plans.

Leroy Sane has refused City’s offer of a contract extension and is entering the final 18 months of his current deal.

“In the summer, we will have time to [add new players]. We have some ideas but also [it depends] on the players,” Guardiola said.

“The players you believe you want to stay might knock on the door and say ‘I want to leave’. So that is going to happen at the end of the season.”

Asked if he was excited to build City’s next team, Guardiola said: “No. I was excited to build the team when I arrived, when we had to do a lot of changes.

“Now, we have to do it again but in an absolutely different way.”

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