Guardiola says Laporte is the best in Europe
Virgil van Dijk won the UEFA Men's Player of the Year but Pep Guardiola thinks Aymeric Laporte deserves a high degree of appreciation.
Pep Guardiola expressed gratitude to Didier Deschamps for picking the "best left-sided central defender in Europe" after Aymeric Laporte finally received a France call-up.
Les Bleus boss Deschamps ended the uncapped Manchester City defender's lengthy exile by naming him in the squad to face Albania and Andorra in Euro 2020 qualifying.
The uncapped 25-year-old has had to be extremely patient for international opportunities despite his consistently excellent displays at the heart of City's defence.
Laporte's performances have forced Guardiola to revise his opinion of the former Athletic Bilbao player, a day after Liverpool counterpart Virgil van Dijk was crowned UEFA Men's Player of the Year.
"It was a mistake when I said he is one of the best – for me he is the best left-sided central defender in Europe," Guardiola said of Laporte, who last won a France call-up in 2017.
"I'm incredibly grateful to Didier Deschamps and so happy for [Laporte] because he deserves it.
"All of us were so happy for him because he was looking for this call for a long time and hopefully he can stay. Now it depends on him."
Walker left out of Southgate's squad
Kyle Walker was less fortunate on the international front, the England regular squeezed out of Gareth Southgate's latest squad due to a surplus of right-backs.
Guardiola admitted "a little bit" of surprise over the decision but backed the 29-year-old to regain his place.
"Of course, Kyle and myself are not involved. We respect the decision and I think Kyle will come back strong," he said.
"It's [Southgate's] decision, of course I understand him and support the manager of the national team."
Walker's good form at club level has earned him three Premier League starts and restricted new signing Joao Cancelo to a brief cameo in the win over Bournemouth.
"With Joao, we are delighted with what we have seen," the City boss said.
"But he arrived late so was not in pre-season. There are many things Kyle knows completely well.
"Joao is starting to understand what to do and maybe [against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday] or maybe after the international break he will start to play."
Guardiola confirmed injured pair John Stones and Gabriel Jesus are "much better" but doubted whether they would be available for the match at the Etihad Stadium.