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Alexis Sanchez has become the 12th man to play for both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, after his move to Manchester United was confirmed. How have the others fared? Which of these two era-defining managers has the better record with players who have appeared for both?

Xabi Alonso

It seems weird that Alonso didn’t play for Guardiola until he was 32. They certainly seem to fit rather better in terms of playing style and general approach to the game than Alonso and Mourinho. But in terms of success, Alonso’s spells at Real and Bayern are not too far apart: two major trophies under Mourinho, three under Guardiola, the Champions League with neither.

“Jose has something different: the way he empathises with him is different, and that’s why you want to fight with him,” Alonso said last year.

Verdict: Guardiola

Arjen Robben

A player whose style suited both managers, it’s certainly tempting to place Robben in the Guardiola column, given the three dominant titles they won together at Bayern, but Mourinho probably had a greater impact on Robben’s career in its crucial, formative years.

It’s easy to read too much into this sort of thing, but it seems telling that in a piece Robben wrote for the Players Tribune in 2017, he mentioned Mourinho but not Guardiola. You could argue that his two years under Guardiola were a disappointment: At that stage of his career and in that team, the goal was European dominance, which didn’t come.

Verdict: Mourinho

Samuel Eto’o

Not a complicated one, this. When Guardiola shipped Eto’o out of Barcelona after only a season, he went to Inter and promptly won the Champions League under Mourinho. “Guardiola has never had the courage to say things in front of me,” Eto’o said in 2014. “He shook hands with me when I was at Inter, and I played against Barca, but this was just for the cameras and TV.”

Verdict: Mourinho

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“Jose Mourinho is Guardiola’s opposite. If Mourinho brightens up the room, Guardiola pulls down the curtains, and I guessed that Guardiola now tried to measure himself with him.” So wrote Ibrahimovic in his autobiography. Again, not a difficult choice.

Verdict: Mourinho

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is no fan of Pep Guardiola but has found a connection in his time with Jose Mourinho.


He’s a slightly curious player who, for a time, seemed to be some sort of Ibrahimovic accessory, playing with the big man at Ajax, Inter, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. Maxwell fell out of favour under Mourinho at Inter but then went on to win two titles and one Champions League under Guardiola at Barcelona, with another seven smaller trophies.

“The two coaches are very demanding, but with a different mentality and entirely different character,” Maxwell said of the pair. “Guardiola is closer and has a gentler way of saying things.” That’s diplomatic, but the weight of silverware tips this balance.

Verdict: Guardiola


On the one hand, Guardiola plucked Pedro, a player few had really thought about or mentioned as a potential future star, from the Barcelona B team and made him a key part of perhaps the greatest club side in the history of football. On the other, Mourinho was sacked four months after signing Pedro for Chelsea.

“Everything just wasn’t right,” Pedro said after Mourinho’s dismissal. “We were very low in the league, the spirits were very low, the trust was very low, everything was going wrong.”

Verdict: Guardiola

Eidur Gudjohnsen

This is a tough one. Gudjohnsen has spoken with some affection about both men, most notably in the Times last year. “With both of them, you could see it, feel it. It was incredibly powerful,” he said. “Both are very likable guys but completely different characters. Jose is much more of a character. Pep doesn’t like confrontation with players, whereas José seems … not to thrive on it, but he seems to enjoy tension.”

Gudjohnsen actually played for only one season under Guardiola, but it wasn’t a bad one, as they won the treble. Yet he was perhaps more a part of the team under Mourinho. At the risk of copping out, this one is too close to call.

Verdict: Draw

Kevin De Bruyne

One of the great “what ifs” of the current Premier League is what sort of player De Bruyne might have turned out to be under Mourinho had he stayed for longer. But of course, we will never know, as Mourinho sold the Belgium international, claiming he didn’t wish to wait or fight for his place.

Under Guardiola, De Bruyne has transformed from a winger to perhaps the best midfielder in Europe. That’s a clear win for the Catalan.

Verdict: Guardiola

Cesc Fabregas

The saga of Fabregas’ transfer from Arsenal to Barcelona seemed to go on for eons. But when he eventually arrived, things didn’t quite pan out as planned, on a personal level at least. Signed as the heir to Xavi, Fabregas never quite settled and was often played by Barcelona as a No. 10 or even as a striker.

“Where I am playing right now is the position I like the most because I feel I can dictate the play, and I feel in control,” Fabregas said after moving to Chelsea, admittedly talking to the club magazine. If only because of the disparity between expectation and reality, this one goes to Mourinho.

Verdict: Mourinho

Claudio Pizarro

He’s the answer in the quiz question that nobody would get. Pizarro was at Chelsea for two years, a fact that makes you frown and double-check it’s right because he didn’t have too many memorable moments there.

He had even fewer under Mourinho, who was sacked just five games into Pizarro’s Stamford Bridge career. Pizarro wasn’t by any means a key part of Guardiola’s Bayern, but he did at least pick up a couple of Bundesliga titles.

Verdict: Guardiola

Bastian Schweinsteiger

Under neither manager did Schweinsteiger exactly enjoy the peak of his career, but at least he played a bit under Guardiola: Schweinsteiger was a semi-regular under Guardiola for the first year of his tenure at Bayern, then played a little less the season after before being cut loose to join Manchester United in 2015.

But as at Bayern, fitness problems curtailed his time at United, and Schweinsteiger was basically cast out when Mourinho arrived, making only four brief appearances (none in the league) before leaving for Chicago Fire in MLS.

Verdict: Guardiola

Close calls

Deco was technically a player under both, winning the Champions League with Mourinho at Porto, but he left Barcelona nine days after Guardiola’s appointment and didn’t play under him. Oriol Romeu made one appearance for Guardiola’s Barcelona before leaving for Chelsea but was loaned out for Mourinho’s two full seasons there before being sold to Southampton.

Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.