'Turning into Maldini' - Gary Neville heaps ultimate praise onto Man City sensation

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville prior to the Premier League match between West Ham United and Brentford FC at London Stadium on February 26, 2024
Gary Neville had kind words for Josko Gvardiol during Man City's win over West Ham -Credit:Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Josko Gvardiol was given a significant compliment by Gary Neville as he cliched his first Premier League title win.

The Croatian defender, who joined Manchester City in a £77.6million transfer from RB Leipzig last summer, played a pivotal role in securing the club's fourth consecutive crown. They got over the line with a 3-1 victory against West Ham at the Etihad on Sunday (May 19), edging out Arsenal in the title race.

At just 22 years old, Gvardiol has been a standout performer for Pep Guardiola's side, particularly in the latter stages of the season. He featured for the full 90 minutes in nine of City's last 10 league fixtures, reports the Mirror.

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During the game, where City swiftly took the lead with Phil Foden scoring within two minutes, Neville was heard comparing him to AC Milan and Italy legend Paolo Maldini.

"He's been turning into Maldini these last few months, sliding passes through and all sorts," said the Manchester United icon after he'd slotted in Erling Haaland for a one-on-one, albeit ending with the offside flag being raised.

Gvardiol, traditionally a defender, has surprisingly contributed to City's offensive prowess, netting four times in their final seven league matches, which included his first-ever brace in the 4-0 thrashing of Fulham.

His first season stats are notable, with five goals and three assists across all competitions, an impressive tally for someone primarily playing at left-back. Meanwhile, Guardiola, marking his sixth Premier League title victory, was visibly emotional during the post-match press conference.

Josko Gvardiol of Manchester City celebrates
Gvardiol has found himself playing just as important a role going forward as at the back -Credit:Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The Spaniard expressed his heartfelt sentiments following Jurgen Klopp's tribute, where the Liverpool boss hailed him as the "best manager in the world" after the Reds' 2-0 victory over Wolves at Anfield.

"I will miss him a lot. Jurgen has been a really important part of my life," Guardiola said, visibly moved. "He brought me to another level as a manager. I think we respect each other incredibly. I have the feeling he will be back.

"I just want to say thank you so much for his words but he knows personally that behind me there is a lot of things this club has provided and given to me."