Manchester City defender Manuel Akanji has said he thought he would have been sold by Pep Guardiola during a tough first season.
Akanji who is now a core player in Guardiola’s squad is currently in his third year as a City player.
Speaking with the Mirror, the Swiss player expressed his gratitude to Guardiola.
He said: “I am grateful to Pep for all he means to me on and off the pitch. When my father passed away two years ago, he was fantastic for me. If I needed things or if I wanted time off, l just had to tell him.
“He gave me all the time and space I needed. Before my father passed away, things at City were not perfect for me. After he was gone, everything went up in an upward trend.
“I got a starting spot at City, we won everything there was to win, and I became a regular in the Dutch national team. Off the pitch things went well too. I got married and we had a great daughter. I think my dad had something to do with all of it. In my first season at City, Pep was great for me. I didn’t perform as I should have. I was not quite myself.
“Guardiola could also have said ‘this is not really my player’ but he didn’t.
“He came to me and said ‘keep working hard, next year is a new season. He kept believing in me and always told me that I would become important for him. That trust was really fabulous – and last season everything fell into place.”