Monday 05 December 2016, 05:13

Pellegrini: Bravo is the world’s best goalkeeper

Manuel Pellegrini believes Claudio Bravo is the best goalkeeper on the planet and explained why he’s repeatedly turned down the Chile job. 'The Engineer' left Manchester City as the 33-year-old arrived there from Barcelona following the 2015/16 season.

Bravo has since received criticism for his performances for Pep Guardiola’s side, but he is one of five keepers, along with Gianluigi Buffon, David De Gea, Keylor Navas and Manuel Neuer, vying to make the FIFA FIFPro World11 for 2016. Thibaut Courtois, Samir Handanovic, Hugo Lloris and Jan Oblak are also considered by many to be among the best players in the world in the position.

“It’s not that the English are off with Bravo,” said Pellegrini. “The press is harsh with the whole world. Moreover, Bravo replaced Hart, who played for England. But if Bravo went from Real Sociedad to Barcelona and Barcelona to City, it’s because he’s the best goalkeeper in the world.”

Bravo has played a fundamental role in Chile’s resurgence in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ preliminaries. In their last outing, La Roja’s most-capped all-time player saved a Luis Suarez penalty to aid a 3-1 win over Uruguay – a result which elevated Juan Antonio Pizzi’s team into the qualification places. Bravo also helped Chile make it back-to-back Copa America crowns earlier this year.

Pellegrini could have been coaching Bravo, Arturo Vidal, Alexis Sanchez and Co – he has rejected the role no fewer than four occasions. The 63-year-old attributed this to timing and his unwillingness to give up the day-to-day grind of club football.

“Why did I turn it down?” Pellegrini said. “Firstly, because always came when I was under contract.

“Secondly, because national team work bores me. You have matches in September, October, November and March. And in June, when the Copa America’s on. The rest of the time you have to work in an office, and I like to be out on the pitch.”

Chile have competed in nine World Cups – a total surpassed by only three South American sides, namely Brazil (20), Argentina (16) and Uruguay (12).

La Roja’s best campaign came on home soil in 1962, when they beat Switzerland, Italy, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, before falling 4-2 to a Garrincha-inspired Brazil in a thrilling semi-final. Amusingly, when Eladio Rojas blasted home a long-range winner in that game against the Soviets, he immediately ran and hugged Lev Yashin because he couldn’t believe he’d scored past the legendary goalkeeper!