"I spoke to him face-to-face, always": Pep Guardiola hits back at Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The Swede has regularly criticised Guardiola for how he dealt with him at Barcelona

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Picture by: Jonathan Brady / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Sound the sub-text and/or narrative klaxon, there's been another twist in the tale ahead of the Manchester Derby on Saturday. 

Before this, it was already clear that Pep and Mourinho don't exactly get on, that Pep and super-agent Mino Raiola don't get on, and the relationship between Guardiola and striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was pretty much irreparable.

Although Guardiola was Ibrahimovic's manager during his short spell at Barcelona, their relationship deteriorated when the decision was made to sell the Swede. Ibrahimovic wrote about it in his autobiography, stating that the way Guardiola dealt with it was "spineless," and has doubled down on that in the period since. 

Speaking at a press conference when he was still a Paris Saint-Germain player, Zlatan said: "As a coach he was fantastic. As a person I’ve no comments about that, that’s something else. He’s not a man, there’s nothing more to say."

However, with the Manchester derby just around the corner, Guardiola stated that the version of events that appeared in I Am Zlatan wasn't a fair reflection of what really happened. 

When asked about the player's comments, Guardiola said: "He explained in his book what he believes," said Guardiola, "But always I was clear, I spoke with him always face-to-face. Always."

Underlining how displeased he was to be the target of criticism in a book, rather than having the conversation with the player, Guardiola added: "I never used the media to explain what I wanted from Zlatan on the pitch, never. The people can say many, many things, but I was so clear and direct to him."

With rivalries set to be set aflame again on Satuday in one of the most hyped-up games in the Premier League in recent memory, this is unlikely to be the last we hear of this particular disagreement.

Via The Daily Mirror