Pep Guardiola was recommended David Silva when the Manchester City playmaker was at Valencia, but the Spaniard was too expensive to bring to Barcelona.
Silva is considered one of the best players in City's history, having moved to the Premier League club from Valencia in 2010, when current Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery was in charge of the LaLiga outfit.
Guardiola, who was at Barcelona, revealed that Emery had recommended Silva to him but the Catalans could not make the finances work on the deal.
"I remember when I was at Barcelona and the first or second year I was there, Unai Emery was there and after the game he said, 'David Silva is the player for you, for Barcelona. Believe me that is a Barcelona player,'" Guardiola told reporters.
"And he was so right. He's a special player. It's not [just] about the quality.
"Always I said to him, 'You have to score goals!' Because if Silva scored goals he would have been something you cannot even imagine. He has absolutely everything with mentality, he's a competitor and everything.
"Hopefully we can help him to be a better player still. I would like to feel that it is not enough what he has done and he can believe he can do better for his own career but big congratulations because what he has achieved here in England with his own quality is not easy. That's why he has to be so, so happy with that.
"He was so expensive, so expensive."
Silva - who made his 300th City appearance in Saturday's 3-1 home Premier League win against Hull City - has often been overlooked for individual prizes but Guardiola noted that the 31-year-old's career should be recorded in more than awards.
"He has something more special than awards," Guardiola said. "Awards are to put in wardrobes and clean sometimes. He has the respect of all of his team-mates and his trainers. That is the most important thing.
"The opinion we will have in the future of what he has done in his career is not about how many individual prizes he has won but about the opinion of his team-mates and his managers.
"When I say I'm a lucky guy it's because I was with Xavi, [Andres] Iniesta and now Silva. All three are outstanding players.
"Silva impresses me every day. To make 300 games is not easy. It's just a big congratulations to him. He's been a big success and hopefully he can play lots more games here in Manchester. Hopefully we can make him become a better player. I would like to feel that what he has done is not enough and he can believe he can do better for his own career."