LONDON • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes European football is more important than the Premier League in helping young English players reach their full potential.
The Spaniard has suggested that it is only by playing regularly in the latter stages of the Champions League at major stadiums such as the Nou Camp, the Bernabeu, the Allianz Arena and the Juventus Stadium that England's best young players can develop the right mental attitude to win major tournaments. He reckons that young players such as City's Raheem Sterling and John Stones, both 22, and Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose, 26, Dele Alli, 20, and Kyle Walker, 26, can match the world's best developing talent and help the country win its first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
However, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has hinted that the Premier League needs to be more flexible with its schedule, in order to give those players the chance to go as far in the Champions League as possible.
"From my experience in Spain and Germany and now here, you cannot imagine how good the young players here are," he said.
"But then I could not imagine the (England) generation of Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand were not able to do something more.
"Kyle Walker, Danny Rose, Dele Alli, Eric Dier, John Stones, Raheem Sterling, they are top. From my point of view, the quality is there and they have the quality at Under-19 and Under-21 level too.
"Maybe they have to focus more on the European competitions so the guys can handle the important stages of the big competitions."