Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has made 34 appearances for England

PEP Guardiola has called Manchester United’s Michael Carrick “one of the best midfielders I’ve ever seen”.

The Manchester City boss said the former England player, 35, is at the same level as Spanish World Cup winners Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets.

Carrick, who joined United in 2006 from Tottenham, has made 31 appearances for the club this season.

“He’s one of the best holding midfielders I’ve ever seen in my life, by far,” Guardiola said.

Carrick has made more than 400 appearances in total and is United’s second-longest serving player after Wayne Rooney.

The City boss, whose team play United in a rearranged Premier League fixture on Thursday, said that English football was “safe” with players such as Carrick and team-mate Marcus Rashford.

Carrick has picked up 34 England caps in an international career that started in 2001, while teenager Rashford has made eight senior appearances.

“I am a big fan of Michael Carrick. Marcus Rashford is a good talent. You have outstanding players, you can do it with the national team.”

City claimed a 2-1 victory when the two Manchester sides met at Old Trafford in September but United have not lost a league game since October – a run of 23 matches.

“They are good, good rivals, good quality, in good form. They’ve had big series without defeat in the Premier League,” the Spaniard continued.

“They have a lot of quality, history. We’re looking forward to the game.”

‘This is my first year without a trophy’

Both Manchester sides are vying for a Champions League spot, with Guardiola’s fourth-placed side currently one point ahead of Manchester United in fifth.

Hosts City have dropped 15 points at home this season and are unlikely to finish higher than third.

“I’ve been managing for nine years and this is my first year without a trophy. Sometimes it has to happen and it happened this year,” Guardiola added.

“If I extend my career long, I’m sure there will be many years in the future it happens. But there’s also a lot of teams in Europe who are not going to win a trophy.”

City spent £175m on players last summer – the most of any Premier League team – with Manchester United second on the list after parting with around £150m.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said on Tuesday that spending the most money on players does not guarantee success and cited both Manchester clubs.

However, Guardiola said that Conte could not forget the Premier League leaders’ own summer spending.

“It is not just United or City and this summer it’s going to happen again,” he said.

“I agree but I think he cannot forget that all the players Chelsea have, have cost a lot of money.”

SOURCE: BBC SPORT