Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has "changed football", according to former AC Milan and Italy manager Arrigo Sacchi.
After a somewhat difficult first season in England saw the Spaniard failing to win a trophy for the first time in his managerial career, City have taken the Premier League by storm this season, winning six of their seven games so far.
Sacchi, who masterminded AC Milan's development into an all-conquering machine between the late 1980s and the early 1990s, believes Guardiola is following in the footsteps of Dutch legends Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels and his approach is just as revolutionary.
"He's one of the top ten coaches since the 1950s who have contributed to the evolution of football," Sacchi was quoted as saying by the Manchester Evening News.
"He's in the tradition of Ajax's Rinus Michels and Cruyff.
"Guardiola once said to me, 'I owe everything to you and Cruyff'. I said to him, 'Without Rinus Michels, there would have been no Cruyff and no Guardiola today.'"
City have scored 28 goals across nine games in the Premier League and the Champions League so far this term, conceding only just two in the process. According to Sacchi, the figures highlighted the impact Guardiola has had on his side's attacking philosophy and his penchant for getting his teams towards playing attractive football.
"[Guardiola] has carried forward total football even more," he added. "He is adding to it, making it better. He is a great coach and Manchester City play in his way with a real style. We're friends. We've known each other for a long time. He came to see how I worked when I was at Real Madrid. He's an obsessive, a perfectionist, he thinks deeply about football."
City went into the second international break of the season on a high after beating Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge and could break away from the rest of the pack this weekend, as they host Stoke City a few hours after Manchester United face a difficult trip to Anfield.
However, for all City's brilliance, Sacchi warned it would premature to consider the two-time Premier League winners clear favourites this season. Guardiola's men were top of the league by four points at the end of September last year after winning his first 10 games in charge, before their title bid faltered.
"It's a very exacting league," the Italian explained. "Manchester City are now going at 100mph but it's difficult to maintain this rhythm, this pace, until May. Manchester United are dangerous. And Liverpool . I watched Chelsea-Manchester City and it seemed like a different sport. It was an extraordinary match, one of the best I've ever seen - fantastic."
During his first spell at AC Milan, Sacchi steered the club to back-to-back European Cup triumphs in 1989 and 1990, a feat which was only emulated by Real Madrid over the last two years.
An English side has meanwhile not reached a final since Chelsea claimed their maiden Champions League crown in 2012 but Sacchi was adamant all Premier League teams should fancy their chances in this season's competition. "I believe this season an English club can go a long way in the Champions League," he added.