Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has aimed one of his trademark back-handed compliments at Champions League opponents Borussia Dortmund, insisting their exciting squad has been built through enormous payments to agents.
The German side have become a hotbed for young talents, with the likes of former City starlet Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham and Erling Haaland three of the brightest prospects on the books at Signal Iduna Park.
City have been strongly linked with a move for Haaland, who is represented by the infamous Mino Raiola, and Guardiola was all too happy to discuss how Dortmund's talent haul stems from their agent fees.
“If one person in Manchester knows about Borussia Dortmund, it is me,” Guardiola said (via Manchester Evening News). “The culture of this club, the way they play and I will not find one single player from Borussia Dortmund without quality.
“They spend a lot of money on young players and pay a lot of money to agents to bring these players there because they have an incredible quality. Incredible.
“Maybe they didn't find this season the consistency in the Bundesliga to win every week but for two [knockout] games they are able to do anything.”
Guardiola will have known full-well what he was doing. The Spaniard does not exactly see eye-to-eye with Raiola, who recently admitted he thinks the City boss feels threatened by him.
“As for Mr Guardiola, I’ve closed the book already a long time ago," he said. "Everybody knows what I think of him personally and he can say what he thinks for me personally. For the rest, I think he’s a great trainer. And that’s how it is. I will not shut up for anybody. I’ll give my opinion, I think that it is my right.
“With Mr [Sir Alex] Ferguson or Guardiola, I have this problem - and I think that it is changing now - that [they believe] we should submit to them because ‘otherwise, tomorrow, you don’t do a player with Manchester United’."
City are still expected to try and do business with Raiola this summer as they look to make Haaland the heir to Sergio Aguero's throne, but there might be one or two bridges which need rebuilding first.