Guardiola says Mourinho is 'best in the world'

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The Independent Football

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has described Real Madrid compatriot Jose Mourinho as the 'best in the world'.

Mourinho guided former clubs FC Porto and Internazionale to Champions League wins and is now hoping to bring success back to the Santiago Bernabeu following a lean spell in their glittering history.

When asked his opinion on the Portuguese coach and the team he is building in Madrid, Guardiola responded: "He is probably the best coach in the world.

"It is often difficult to decide in these cases who is the best, but his career in several countries is immaculate.

"Real Madrid have a great team and I knew that the league this season would be competitive from the very first game. We hope to keep up."

Real are currently top of the La Liga table by one point from Barcelona and Villarreal.

Karim Benzema has been backed to be a success at Real Madrid by the club's director general Jorge Valdano.

The France striker has struggled to justify the £25million transfer fee which brought him to La Liga from Lyon in summer 2009.

He has been linked with a move to Manchester United in each of the last two transfer windows, but Valdano has backed Benzema to win over his Madrid critics.

"He is still a very young player and not everyone settles in quickly," he explained.

"Sometimes players mature in months, like Mesut Ozil or Angel Di Maria, and in other cases, by nature, they take longer to develop.

"The technical ability of Benzema is undeniable and he will start showing it soon."

Meanwhile, Real coach Mourinho is hopeful that Pepe's long-term future will be resolved in the near future.

The 27-year-old Portugal defender has been offered a three-year extension to his existing deal that expires in 2012, but he wants a huge pay rise on top.

With Chelsea and Manchester City rumoured to be interested in acquiring his services, Mourinho insists the European giants must keep hold of one of their prized assets.

"Real Madrid are trying not to lose, and Pepe cannot be lost by Real Madrid," he said.

"The club know. In a few weeks I will fix everything and Pepe will stay here."