Pep Guardiola insisted he had nothing bad to say about Joao Cancelo after sanctioning his surprise loan move from Manchester City to Bayern Munich this week.
The versatile City full-back joined the German side for the remainder of the season on deadline day with a view to a permanent transfer.
There have been suggestions that Cancelo had become a disruptive figure in the dressing room after falling out of favour in recent weeks.
Guardiola said: “Firstly I wish him the best for the rest of the season, this four months. Next season I don’t know what will happen.
“He has been an incredible figure in the last two Premier Leagues we won but after the World Cup we made a ‘pre-season’ and started to play in a different way in some patterns.
“I liked what I watched and I decided to give more time to players who I saw on the pitch who liked it.
“He is one of the players who trains the best but in this situation he didn’t play much in the last two or three games.
“Bayern Munich wanted him because he’s beyond an exceptional player. I won’t say one bad word about him.
“I think his work ethic, love for football, passion, his quality and skills… what can I say? Everyone knows it.”
Cancelo’s departure leaves City short of specialist full-backs but, following the emergence of teenager Rico Lewis this season, Guardiola feels he has adequate cover with three of his five centre-backs capable of filling in.
City therefore decided against making any late moves in the January transfer window themselves.
“I said to (director of football) Txiki Begiristain, ‘We have to take a look’, and we could have gone into the market and paid a huge amount of money for one left-back, but we can handle the situation. I trust a lot the players I have.”
City could have triggered the buyback clause they inserted into the deal when they sold Pedro Porro to Sporting Lisbon last summer but they ruled it out.
Instead, the Spaniard joined Tottenham on loan with an obligation to buy, and he could make his debut for his new club against City on Sunday.
Guardiola said: “He was on the list but we would have to pay a buyback clause and he decided to go to Spurs.”
The City boss will be without one of his centre-backs in the coming weeks after John Stones was ruled out for a spell with the hamstring injury he suffered against Arsenal in the FA Cup last week.
Guardiola said: “It’s three weeks, one month (out), more or less.”