Manchester United’s Michael Carrick has been described by Pep Guardiola as “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.”