Cesc Fabregas has shared his differing experiences of working under three coaching geniuses in Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho and feels the ex-Arsenal boss is the best manager there has been at developing youngsters.
The Spaniard, who currently plays for Monaco, made his professional debut with the Gunners under Wenger in 2003, later returning to Barcelona to play under Guardiola before a spell with Chelsea under Mourinho.
He won honours at all three clubs and ranks the coaches extremely highly, though he will always hold Wenger in particularly special regard and feels his work with young players is unparalleled.
Asked how the trio differed in an interview with Rio Ferdinand for his new FIVE YouTube series The Locker Room, Fabregas explained: ‘I think Arsene Wenger is the best coach for young players, definitely. I cannot see anyone better than him, because he gives opportunities, he teaches you.
‘He teaches the young players how to behave and how to play the game. He has a certain ability of how to spend time with players and teach them exactly the way he wants his team to play.
‘And I think in this way a lot of people talk, sometimes a young player doesn’t do well, especially now in football you don’t have patience, the press is on you, the fans are on you, they want to win. But he’s got that patience. You play one bad game, he will give you another opportunity. And another one after.
‘Obviously at the end you will need to take it, as a young player you need to be there to take it and grab it. But he never shakes under pressure in this case and that’s not easy and he has this ability and I love the way he understands football.
‘For me it’s probably the time where I felt most free to play football the way I want to express myself. Right, left, nobody needed to tell me what to do or how to play my game because he taught me and we had that trust with each other.’
On Guardiola, he continued: ‘And then Pep, Pep is probably the most tactical manager out of the three. He loves the structure even though he’s not telling you all the time, “Be here”.
‘But he trusts that the way he plays, and the way he teaches you to play, will find the right spaces – obviously because he had great teams, don’t get me wrong, it’s easier to explain to Iniesta than to someone else. But he always felt that when you play the ball quick and at the right time, you will always find the guy that is free and will be able to make a difference.
‘Pep’s main point is move the ball fast and have the right movement at the right time to find the right space. This is how he works. What I like about him as well is that he could change tactics three times in one game. This is sensational, he spends so many hours at the training ground.
‘And Jose, Jose is the coach that tactically he’s got one system but he works on that system very well. Very well because he’s got the specific players for the right system.
‘He knows, one day when I met him first, he told me, “I need two players, I’m going to sign Diego Costa and if you come to me…” and he drew me the team on paper and said, “… this team is winning the title”. He said that to me, the first day I met him.
‘He said he only needed two players. And after that, working with him, he’s probably the coach that played with my mind better in terms of he’s a great coach for great players. Because he plays with the mind, he stimulates you.’
For more stories like this, check our sport page.