Manchester City’s tag as favourites to win the Champions League is recognition for having the best players in the world to choose from, according to assistant manager Mikel Arteta.
The Spaniard will take charge of City’s European opener on Wednesday at home to Lyon as Pep Guardiola serves a ban for being sent to the stands during a quarterfinal defeat to Liverpool last season.
Arteta admitted he is surprised that Real Madrid haven’t retained their status as favourites after winning three consecutive Champions League titles and with the final to be played in the Spanish capital this season.
However, the former Arsenal midfielder insists there is far more to what City are building in trying to win the European Cup for the first time than simply spending hundreds of millions in assembling one of the strongest squads in the competition.
“For me, we have the best players in the world,” Arteta said.
“They are fantastic, the mix we have between senior players and younger players, the hunger they still have in this group it is incredible.
“People talk about other things because of the money that has been spent, but people have to see what is inside this club and what has been created which is phenomenal.”
City recently celebrated a decade under the ownership of Emirati owner Sheikh Mansour, which has transformed the clubs fortunes thanks to huge investment on and off the field in facilities.
That has reaped rewards domestically with three Premier League wins, but City’s best run in Europe remains a semifinal appearance in 2015/16 before Guardiola took charge.
“That’s the aim (to win the Champions League),” added Arteta. “We have a young squad, they have gained experience and we feel better prepared than in the previous two years.
“We are preparing every single detail and learning from the past because we believe we can do better.”
Arteta was linked with a return to Arsenal as Arsene Wenger’s successor as manager earlier this year.
The 36-year-old didn’t hide his ambition to one day go out on his own, but believes he is “privileged” to be learning as a coach under Guardiola.
“I am privileged to be here and I am very fulfilled to be doing the job I am at the moment.
“If you ask me one day will I be a head coach, the answer is probably yes. But I’m really happy where I am and enjoying the moment I am living with the club.
“I think we have fantastic momentum now and there is lots of room for this club to grow.”