Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has described Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa as “the most authentic manager” before his side’s trip to Elland Road.
Guardiola, 49, regards Dutchman Johan Cruyff as his coaching inspiration, but hugely admires the Argentine, 65.
The Spaniard met Bielsa in Argentina before becoming Barcelona B boss and has adopted many of his philosophies.
“He is probably the person I admire the most in world football – as a manager and as a person,” said Guardiola.
“He is the most authentic manager in terms of how he conducts his teams. He is unique. Nobody can imitate him, it’s impossible.
“I don’t see him quite as much but when I get the pleasure to spend time with him, it’s always inspirational.”
The charge sometimes levelled against Bielsa is that for all the plaudits he receives, he lacks major honours.
While Guardiola has won eight league titles, two Champions Leagues and five domestic cups in a glittering career, Bielsa’s best achievement has arguably been guiding Argentina to gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Until he won the Championship with Leeds last season, his major club feat was leading Athletic Bilbao to the Europa League and Copa del Rey finals in 2012, both of which they lost.
However Guardiola, whose side face Bielsa’s on Saturday, does not believe the lack of silverware matters.
“The value of a manager does not depend on how many titles or prizes you won,” said Guardiola.
“My teams won more titles than his but in terms of knowledge of the game and many other things, including training sessions, I am still away from him.
“It’s a good gift to the Premier League to have him here because his teams are always a joy to watch. They are honest, they always want to attack and they produce good football for spectators.”
Bielsa, in contrast, played down his influence on Guardiola’s football philosophy.
“I do not feel like a mentor to Guardiola,” he said. “It’s not just how I feel, it has been evidenced to not being the case. If there’s a manager who is independent in his own ideas, that is Guardiola.
“It’s not just because I say it is, it’s because his teams play like no other team. Many believe that [Guardiola’s Barcelona team] is the best club team ever created.”