Man City will prove they are best team in world by winning Champions League, says Mikel Arteta

Luke Edwards
The Telegraph
Mikel Arteta believes Manchester City have the best squad in the world - AFP
Mikel Arteta believes Manchester City have the best squad in the world - AFP

Mikel Arteta insists he has no regrets about missing out on becoming Arsenal manager as he believes Manchester City are the best team in the world, and that they can prove it by winning the Champions League this season.

Arteta was close to replacing Arsene Wenger in the summer, only for Arsenal to have second thoughts because of his lack of managerial experience, turning to former Valencia, Sevilla and Paris St-Germain coach Unai Emery.

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It was a testing period for City’s assistant manager, who will be in charge of the team against Lyon as Pep Guardiola is serving a ­one-game touchline ban for ­abusing the referee during the second leg of their Champions League defeat by Liverpool in April, but he is ­adamant there is no bitterness.

City’s thirst for European success will surely intensify this season, given their domestic dominance under Guardiola last term, and ­Arteta agreed that, to be considered a truly great side, they have to win a European trophy.

“That is the aim,” said Arteta. “We have a very young squad. They gained a lot of experience in the last two years with the different things that have happened in the Champions League and we feel we are ­better prepared.

“But in the Champions League winning or losing is more detailed. We are preparing every detail to improve what we’ve done in the past. We believe we can do better and tomorrow everything starts. A new competition and we know how hard it is to play against the teams in Europe.

<span>Arteta will take charge of City on the sidelines in the absence of suspended Guardiola</span> <span>Credit: Getty Images </span>
Arteta will take charge of City on the sidelines in the absence of suspended Guardiola Credit: Getty Images

“For me, we have the best players in the world and I look at our ­players as if they are the best. I look at the players, I see how they behave, how they react. The positives, negatives, their qualities and weaknesses. I wouldn’t change my players for any others.

“They are absolutely fantastic, the hunger in this group is incredible. People talk about money to spend. But people have to look ­inside this club, what we have ­created, it’s phenomenal.

“There are many aspects [as to why we believe we are better equipped]. But you have to get to the important moments with all your best players available.

“You have to pay attention to every detail. You have to be lucky with key decisions. There are a lot of ingredients. We didn’t manage to get where I think we could have reached [last season].”

Despite his glowing endorsement of the talent at City’s disposal, Arteta claimed he was still ­surprised they had been made the favourites to win the Champions League, given the recent dominance of the Spanish clubs.

“I am surprised we are favourites when you have a team that won it three times in a row,” Arteta added ahead of a game against a Lyon side who have had a poor start to the season in France. “But that means we are doing things really well, people seriously think we are candidates to compete against other teams in Europe.

“That has to be a motivation, not a pressure and that’s the way we take it. Hopefully we can improve on the last two seasons because we came short.

“For me, the favourite has to be Real Madrid, they have something special in this competition. They deal with every detail better. The rest, we have to catch up.”

How much longer Arteta is ­willing to support Guardiola in his quest to turn City into a major force in Europe remains to be seen, but the former Arsenal midfielder is not agitating to leave.

“In football, it is so hard to predict things,” Arteta said. “Now is not the time for me to talk about Arsenal. I didn’t talk about it two or three months ago, but you all know something happened and we all know why I am here.

“The decision was made and I am so happy the decision was made. I am privileged to be where I am. I feel very fulfilled with the job I am doing at the moment.

“We have a fantastic momentum and there is still a lot of room for this club to grow. I clicked with Pep straight away.

“Obviously, he is very disappointed [to be banned]. We all know how much the Champions League means for him – this is the first match and vital for the group stages.

“But he had a reaction to something in a big game and they made a decision and this is the situation. We respect the decision. He wouldn’t choose the situation, but I am here, I will try to do my best, to reduce the impact of not having Pep, but for the rest it is absolutely normal.”

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