Aymeric Laporte has opened up about life as part of the Manchester City squad and his experiences winning trophies and working under Pep Guardiola.
The Frenchman has blossomed into one of the world's finest centre-backs since sealing his big-money move to the Etihad Stadium back in January 2018, although a serious knee injury has kept him sidelined since August.
Since joining the club, Laporte has won two Premier League titles and the FA Cup last season, to add to two Carabao Cups and one Community Shield.
That return is considerably more than he managed with his previous side Athletic Club. They lifted the Supercopa de
“When you win a trophy it’s a special moment, always," he told 90min.
"For me, it’s a great success because with Bilbao I played many games but won just one trophy. It was amazing but it’s very special to win many trophies."
That success is addictive. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year for his outstanding performances with City but, at 25 years old, he will certainly be hoping that that is just the start for him.
“[Last season] was an unbelievable season - 98 points - and the run between us and Liverpool was amazing until the end," said Laporte.
"This year has been very special for us. I think we deserved it. It’s difficult to win trophies, especially the Premier League, and last year was the most difficult ever and I enjoyed it to the end. When we won the last game it was like, unbelievable.
“Always it’s strong, it is difficult, because the other teams work and are showing our games. Obviously, then they play too, there is not just one team on the pitch so we have to improve all the time, work them, and try to find the mistake for them.”
City lost club legend Vincent Kompany during the summer, and their decision not to replace him came under intense scrutiny after Laporte's injury. The Frenchman admitted that City miss having such a leader in the dressing room.
"He was amazing in the locker room, he was the captain. He helped us, the two years I had with him, he helped me a lot on the pitch and outside it as well. He was always present for everything and we miss him. I still text him sometimes.”
Filling the void at centre-back has been veteran midfielder Fernandinho, who has been shifted into defence to allow record-signing - and Laporte's close friend - Rodri to shine in midfield.
While City would undoubtedly prefer to have Laporte back in the team, the Frenchman insisted that everyone at the Etihad is ready to work hard for the benefit of the team.
“Yeah of course, I know he [Fernandinho] can do it easy because he is a top class player; like everyone on the team to be fair. He’s unbelievable," he added.
"But you can choose one player and he’s the most important player from his country. I think everyone on the team can do everything and even Kyle [Walker] can be keeper. We are a big team and everyone has their place within the team.”
Leading that team has been Guardiola, who has earned his reputation as one of the finest tactical minds around.
Having won ludicrous amounts of silverware in Spain, Germany and now England, Guardiola has the kind of résumé which most managers can only dream of. He has continued City's rise towards Europe's elite and regularly attracts interest from top clubs around the globe.
“He’s very intense all the time," Laporte said.
"He’s a guy who knows everything about football. He has a different mentality about football and we’re enjoying that all the time on the pitch. He explains to us all the time what we have to do - obviously when we’re on the pitch we have to decide - but he’s always here and he moves the team forward all the time.
"If we win or lose it doesn’t matter, he is always there and I think he changed everything. I’m very happy to work with him and to have improved a lot over these two years. I hope I continue to improve a lot more for the rest of his contract.”