Klopp vs Guardiola: Could Sunday's showdown be their final battle in English football?

Jurgen Klopp has called Pep Guardiola the 'best manager in the world', while the City manager says he hopes they can soon meet socially as friends.

That's despite comments made by Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold that winning trophies means more to the Merseyside Club, a statement which has stoked tensions ahead of Sunday's showdown.

It's a rivarly that's dominated recent Premier League history. As champions and challengers Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have pushed each others limits in their pursuit to be the best.

But with Klopp departing Liverpool at the end of the season, Sunday's game with Manchester City at Anfield could be the last time we see them on the sidelines together.

However, speaking during his press conference on Friday, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp paid a glowing tribute to his opposite number, calling him ‘the best manager in the world’.

Klopp has already picked up one trophy in his final season in the dugout Credit: PA Imges

Klopp said: “Pep is the best manager in the world. I have a really good life being not even close to that.

“I don’t know how could I judge managers from the past but in my lifetime he’s the outstanding manager. I see excellence when I face it and Pep is definitely that.

“I was never frustrated, I knew round about 3,000 footballers who were better than me and I still loved the game; the others who were better than me, I didn’t know them.

“I just got told I have a positive record against Pep… I have no clue how that happened to be honest.

“It made me a better manager trying to find solutions. I know I’m quite good at what I’m doing as well, I don’t want to sound like, ‘Oh my God, I’m just happy to be here’, but you ask me about the best: he’s the best. Bam.”

Since their arrivals here eight years ago City and Liverpool have been dominant winning Premier Leagues and Champions Leagues as well as FA and League Cups.

This week, Liverpool defender Trent Alexander Arnold said Liverpool's success means more because they don't have the financial power of City.

Trent Alexander-Arnold's comments have upset some of City's players Credit: PA Images

Erling Haaland and Ruban Dias hit back saying he doesn't know what it like to win a treble, but today Guardiola avoided adding to the war of words.

Instead, he simply encouraged the champions to do their talking on the pitch in an encounter that could have a huge bearing on the destiny of the Premier League title.

The City manager said: “I’m so happy with my players, all the time, over many, many years.

“Do you think we’re not going to fight because Erling and Ruben talk? Without these talks we will not fight?

“We are there and, after what happened over the last years, we are going to try again tomorrow and do a good game.

“They defend the club not by responding to this guy but what they have done for many years on the pitch every three days. That is the best way.

“I could answer him (Alexander-Arnold), but why? It is what it is.

Guardiola is aiming to replicate last season's treble Credit: PA Images

Once again Liverpool and City are locked in battle at the top of the table.

While Klopp and Guardiola may not be close friends a healthy respect has developed between the two.

Guardiola is not sure it will be the last time the pair face each other but, regardless, hopes they can meet socially at some stage in the future.

“We might play in the FA Cup and, the future, nobody knows. He’s young, I’m young, so I don’t know.

“Sometimes (we meet) in the corridor before press conferences but when we were honoured in the Hall of Fame years ago we spent time with families but, in terms of lunch or dinners, it never happened.

“We have to decide who pays, that’s why we didn’t do it! I think it’s going to happen sooner or later, I would love it but we’ll see.”

While lavish with his praise for Guardiola, Klopp did take issue with any negative characterisation of the duo’s relationship, insisting they were bound by similarities rather than differences.

“I don’t feel it’s a rivalry, but I understand why you call it that,” he said.

“There’s no rivalry. We are both really competitive, we both want to win football games and we are both blessed with really good players in our teams.

“If we meet in the future it will be full of respect. We have not had the opportunity to meet each other more often, but we would have a lot to talk about. Definitely.

Anfield is expected to be a cauldron of noise on Sunday

Both sides warmed up for this with European wins as Liverpool beat Sparta Prague 5-1 last night in the first leg of their last 16 Europa League tie.

Sunday's Premier League meeting will be the 30th managerial match up between Guardiola and Klopp.

One last epic encounter would be a fitting finale to this touch line tussle.