Ever since his arrival on English shores just over a year ago, Pep Guardiola has maintained his belief that the Premier League is not the most difficult around as some would claim, and that it has some way to go before it can compare to the likes of La Liga.
In an interview with the Mirror, Guardiola has voiced his reasoning behind this argument, pointing to the failure of English clubs to dominate in the Champions League in recent years as the most obvious reason.
“I know you like to hear: ‘It is the toughest one, congratulations,’” the Spaniard said. “You are the most viewed.
"Of course the Premier League is tough, so tough. But I would not say going to the Bernabeu, Camp Nou, Bilbao, Sevilla is easy. Because in the last decade, all the Spanish teams arrive in the Champions League and Europa League. Winning the Europa League — like Sevilla did three times in a row.
"The Premier League will be tough when, this is going to happen with five teams in the Champions League, they can achieve the last rounds. After we can say, ‘That is the toughest league’. We have to make that step.”
The case has been made by many that the Premier League is the toughest league in the world because of its competitiveness amongst the top sides, with more teams capable of winning the title, no team able to win the league more than once on the trot for several years, and no easy game on the fixture list. The Manchester City boss does not buy into this theory however.
“I would like to see an English team win the Champions League,” continued Guardiola. “I am one of the most lucky guys, I won two Champions League finals against Manchester United.
“And I would like to see Liverpool, Chelsea, United, City and Tottenham arrive in quarter-finals, semi-finals, final. That would show that league is top.
“The money? No, because, if that was the reason why, the Premier League would always be in the finals.”
There are those who would argue that due to the demanding nature of the Premier League due to the physicality that is not seen in continental Europe, combined with the fact that there is not winter break unlike most other leagues, players at English clubs suffer in Europe. Guardiola, however, only recognises one thing when deciding on what makes a league tough - results.