SINGAPORE - The Guardiola effect has worked its magic on seasoned pundit John Dykes, who tipped Manchester City to win next season's Premier League crown.
The English top flight kicks off on Aug 13 and he said: "City have the best chance to win the league. Besides the (Pep) Guardiola factor, there's also the fact that they've already strengthened a very strong squad when they signed (Ilkay) Gundogan and Nolito.
"Kevin de Bruyne was brilliant last season until he got injured. Then he continued his brilliance once he came back. A player like him will shine this season.
"Nolito is interesting to me also because he said he wanted to play under Guardiola and I'm sure the latter fancies him as well. City need some support for (Sergio) Aguero so that's a major signing."
Dykes was speaking to The Straits Times on the sidelines of the Premier League Season 2016-17 curtain raiser yesterday at Altimate, organised by Singtel TV.
Surprisingly, not only did the 51-year-old dismiss Leicester City's chances of retaining the title but he also does not expect them to finish in the top four.
He said: "Doing it once was amazing but could they really do it again? Losing (N'Golo) Kante, Steve Walsh - an important member of the backroom staff - will be major hits on them.
"European football will also be a distraction. If Leicester don't make a good start to their domestic campaign, Europe will hinder them greatly."
He also did not think the usual contenders would be able to deliver.
He said: "For Arsenal, it's a case of whether they can avoid an injury crisis and have the strength to get through the tough games.
"Spurs were fantastic last year and I like the squad (Mauricio) Pochettino's got but can they both reproduce again?
"Manchester United, along with the new egos in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and (Jose) Mourinho, they still have a squad that wasn't great last year so it'll be tough for them to win the league.
"Chelsea have to come from so far behind and they're still an unfinished team under (Antonio) Conte, who needs two or three more big signings.
"Liverpool have a good shout for the top four but not the title yet."
Some of the world's best managers like Guardiola, Conte, Mourinho and Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp have now made the Premier League their home and Dykes feels this only boosts the league's competitive nature.
"These managers, who can take their pick of the best jobs out there, come to the Premier League for one reason and that is to prove themselves in a league that's not easy to win," Dykes said.
"When you look at La Liga or the Bundesliga, strong leagues in their own right, you tend to focus on a few clubs and judge their success. But a league is about all 20 teams and a league is only as good as every one of them - that's why it's tough."
But while the EPL has drawn among the biggest managerial names in the sport, the same cannot be said of the players.
But Dykes believes an influx of top stars in the English game is due.
Pointing to the EPL's mega TV deal worth a record £5.136 billion ($10.82 billion) which will run for the next three years, Dykes said: "The Premier League is the strongest one financially, and has the clout and the credibility to attract them."