LIVERPOOL boss Jurgen Klopp has named long-time rival Pep Guardiola as the “best manager of our era”.
German Klopp revealed he ranks the Manchester City boss as the best in modern times despite cruising to the Premier League title ahead of him this season.
The pair have been going head to head for years after Guardiola arrived at Bayern Munich in 2013, with Klopp the man in the hot seat at Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.
They have gone to battle on English shores since Guardiola took the reins at the Etihad for the start of the 2016/17 season.
Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool in 2015 and has transformed the club’s fortunes, leading them to a historic first Premier League triumph.
But he is clearly full of admiration for his fellow manager.
He told Robbie Savage’s Premier League Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live: “I respect what he’s doing. When we meet, I want to beat him.
“But I have absolutely no problem with admitting my 100 per cent honest opinion that he is the best manager of our era.
“That’s no problem for me. That doesn’t cost me confidence or whatever.
“I have fought so often so hard against teams of Pep Guardiola. I don’t know how many years… about four, three in Germany.
“I was not even close to the Pep Guardiola teams, so I had a different road to reach that battle.”
Guardiola toppled Klopp to win the German league in both the 2013/14 and 2014/15 campaigns – the two seasons their tenures overlapped.
He caused more heartbreak for the former Mainz boss by beating Klopp’s Dortmund with Bayern in the 2013 Champions League final.
However, Klopp claims the pair get on just fine and their families even like each other.
He added: “I like him. I really admire what he’s doing.
“We met last season twice, I think in a different surrounding with all families, which was really nice.
“So they liked each other as well. So that was all good.”
Despite surrendering their grip on the title, City and Guardiola have laid down a marker ahead of next season.
The Sky Blues thumped runaway champions Liverpool 4-0 at the Etihad on Thursday after giving them a pre-game guard of honour.
It was the Reds’ first game since they ended 30 years of hurt to finally be crowned league winners but they were left with no misgivings about the challenge of backing it up next year.