The 23-year-old center-back immediately established himself as the Etihad starter after leaving Benfica in September.

Portuguese legend Pepe believes Manchester City’s Ruben Dias is the best defender the country can boast of right now.

Dias, 23, signed for City from Benfica at the start of the 2020-21 season and immediately found a place in Pep Guardiola’s first-team plans. The center-back has only missed two of his side’s Premier League outings, as he has become a regular with the Portugal squad since his debut in 2018.

“Ruben Dias is already the best Portuguese center-back in the world, I’ve said that before,” the ex-Real Madrid star told ‘Tribuna Expreso’. “Not only that, but he’s also a very smart player.” The duo have played together several times for Portugal, establishing a solid understanding despite the age difference. 20210115 202449617300622099239744 In October, the Porto defender praised his compatriot ahead of the Portuguese club’s Champions League clash against City: “I had immense respect for Ruben from the first day he joined the national team. He always has was an exemplary player in the team and showed his character. I was also happy to see him leave for a club like Manchester City, where he will continue to progress and grow. ”

Dias in turn praised his veteran colleague, expressing his admiration for the 37-year-old, who continues to shine at club and national level.

“It is not common for a player of Pepe’s age to keep up the excellent performances he has achieved,” the defender told reporters during the international break in October.

“We should be happy that he still has the ability to play at this level. There are few greater privileges than being able to have his experience and the opportunity to play alongside him, with all that he stands for, where he played and everything he won. “