Former Manchester City defender Aleksandar Kolarov has backed Pep Guardiola’s side to make it five Premier League titles in the last six years at the end of the current campaign.
The Serbian is confident that City have “already booked” their latest crown, despite trailing current league leaders Arsenal by four points and with the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Liverpool all still potential challengers.
Last season, City lifted the title after a thrilling final day which saw them beat Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium to finish one point ahead of rivals Liverpool.
And Kolarov, who played nearly 250 games for the club after joining from Italian side Lazio in 2010, believes Guardiola and Co will be celebrating again next May.
“City has the best chances to win the league title again and I’m very confident they’ll do it,” Kolarov told The National at the Emirates Palace on Thursday.
“We have a great manager and a great team. We are there to win the title one more time. It will be difficult but City has quality in every line of play to win it again.
“Arsenal are a pretty good side this season. Spurs are a good side too with a very good coach [In Antonio Conte] and as always there is Chelsea and Liverpool, but I think the first place is already booked. I’m very confident of that.”
Despite all their success on the domestic front since Guardiola's arrival in 2016, City are yet to taste success on the European stage with their defeat in the final against Chelsea two years ago the closest they have come to lifting the Champions League trophy.
But Kolarov still believes they have the right man in charge to finally become European champions. “City has the quality to challenge for all the titles,” he said. “Pep has taken the team to a new level and has maintained it to become one of the top clubs in the world.
“Of course we need to work a lot to arrive where Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are, but with him, we have all the chances to achieve that.”
Despite winning two Premier League titles and two League Cups while at the club, it was another trophy success that Kolarov remembers with most fondness from his spell – the historic 2011 FA Cup victory over Stoke City.
“I spent seven great years at City but if I have to choose one moment during that time, it was winning the FA Cup, the first title I won at the club and the first that the club had won in 35 years,” he said.
“It was a great achievement for the club and for me to be a member of that team. Then the trophies started to come one after the other.”
After leaving City in 2017, Kolarov then returned to Italy and spent five seasons in Serie A – three with Roma and two at Inter Milan – before announcing his retirement this summer.
“I thought it was a good time to move from City to make way for the young players to come into the side,” he said about his decision to leave England.
“I used to play in Italy before I joined City and had the chance to go back and play there in my last years. I stopped playing four months ago and got the sporting director licence. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do except stay in football.”
Kolarov also enjoyed a successful international career that saw him earn 94 caps for Serbia, scoring 11 goals – one of which was the winner against Costa Rica at the 2018 finals in Russia.
“It wasn’t easy because I was coming from a small country but I always believed in myself and here I am,” he said.
“Playing for the country is of course the dream of any footballer. I had that opportunity and play for Serbia for the Under-21s and senior team for 15 years.
“To play in two World Cups and score against Costa Rica to win that game were the high points of playing for the national team.”
*Kolarov is in Abu Dhabi on Manchester City’s global Premier League Trophy Tour and festival screening event for their game against Brighton on Saturday.