Pep Guardiola has no doubt Manchester City already have the ideal successor for him at the club in his assistant boss Mikel Arteta.
Former Everton and Arsenal midfielder Arteta, who has been working under Guardiola since 2016, recently said he had turned down offers to take over as manager elsewhere to stay with the Premier League champions.
The 37-year-old Spaniard was heavily linked with a return to Arsenal when Arsene Wenger left the club last year but the job eventually went to Unai Emery.
Guardiola has always maintained he is happy as City manager, and is contracted until 2021, but when he does move on he believes Arteta would be good enough to step up.
Guardiola said of his fellow countryman: “He’s an incredible human being, with incredible values about what it means in the locker room and to be together.
“He is already an incredible manager and he’ll have incredible success in his future.
“I’m pretty sure (he could succeed me), yes. But he decided to stay – thanks – but everyone decides what they’ll do in the future. Sooner or later it’s going to happen.
“He’s a young young manager but he has experience already to handle big players and teams.”
Arteta, who also played for Paris Saint-Germain, Rangers and Real Sociedad after coming through the Barcelona youth ranks, moved straight into coaching under Guardiola after hanging up his boots three years ago.
Guardiola says he and Arteta share a footballing philosophy. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said: “He has incredible work ethic and he has a special talent to analyse what happens, and to find the solutions.
“We talk a lot about what he believes and feels and so on. He has helped me a lot, especially in the first year. He knew the Premier League, like for example in games against Stoke or whatever.
“He can tell me the players we will face better than myself, because he played against them and was in the Premier League for 10 or 11 years. That’s a long time and that is why he helped me a lot, and he still helps me.
“He’s a guy who has this ability to see what happens. When you’re off the pitch and on the pitch it’s easier, he can do it. We see the football in really quite a close way.”
City will hope to get back to winning ways in the Premier League on Saturday following last week’s shock defeat at Norwich as they host bottom side Watford.
Left-back Benjamin Mendy, whose two years at City have been ravaged by injury, could feature after playing his first minutes of the season as a late substitute against Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek.
He could add a different dimension to the team but, given the Frenchman’s fitness problems, Guardiola will be cautious.
He said: “The first step is to not get injured – to play weeks and weeks and weeks and some months of train and train. He played the first minutes and in the future he is going to play a little more regularly.
“Always we dream he would be an incredibly important player for us because with him we can attack more constantly and in different ways.”
Mason Mount could feature for Chelsea against Liverpool on Sunday.
Mount limped out of the Champions League defeat by Valencia on Tuesday with a nasty-looking ankle injury after he was caught by a late challenge from Francis Coquelin, but boss Frank Lampard has not ruled out the young midfielder.
N’Golo Kante has recovered from an ankle injury and his general fitness will be assessed.
Callum Hudson-Odoi should return from his Achilles injury next week.
Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker and midfielder Naby Keita have returned to training but are not yet in contention.
Alisson has been absent since sustaining a calf injury 39 minutes into the Reds’ opening league match but has started individual sessions with goalkeeping coach John Achterberg.
Keita, who has not played since the Community Shield because of a groin injury, has rejoined team training but striker Divock Origi (ankle) is unlikely to feature at Stamford Bridge.
Fernandinho is set to continue in central defence for Manchester City as the champions host Watford in the Premier League on Saturday.
The midfielder moved into the back four against Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek after John Stones (thigh) joined Aymeric Laporte (knee) on the sidelines. The pair both face lengthy lay-offs.
City have no fresh injuries following their trip to Ukraine and midfielder Phil Foden should be available again after a stomach virus. Winger Leroy Sane (knee) is also still out.
Watford forward Isaac Success is set for at least a month out with a groin problem.
Defender Craig Cathcart should return to training next week following a thigh injury picked up while on international duty with Northern Ireland.
Club captain Troy Deeney continues his recovery after undergoing knee surgery during August.
Man City provisional squad: Ederson, Bravo, Cancelo, Walker, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Garcia, Zinchenko, Angelino, Mendy, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, D Silva, B Silva, Foden, Mahrez, Sterling, Aguero, Jesus.
Watford provisional squad: Foster, Dawson, Kiko, Holebas, Kabasele, Cleverley, Doucoure, Hughes, Capoue, Deulofeu, Gray, Gomes, Janmaat, Mariappa, Foulquier, Chalobah, Pereyra, Sarr.