Ahead of today’s tumultuous derby former Manchester City defender Richard Dunne has revealed his admiration for the Blues’ centre-back pairing of Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, insisting the duo could become the ‘most successful’ partnership for decades.

Speaking exclusively the 888sport.com the 80-cap Irish international turned pundit lavished praise on a rock-solid twosome who together have conceded only four league goals this term and been instrumental in twelve clean sheets across all competitions. He even compared them favourably to some iconic pairings from yesteryear.

“They are very different to when you go back over the years to the centre-back pairings that United had. Vidic and Stam, Steve Bruce and Pallister even. They were tough tacklers whereas the two City have – who are the only two centre-backs that Pep has bought – are completely within his profile of ball-playing defenders. They don’t seem to be in positions to need last-ditch tackles. Instead they read the game really well and obviously with the team they have ahead of them – and Fernandinho in particular – hey are not under so much pressure. This brings its own issue though because they need to concentrate all the time and remain switched on.”

“The understanding that they’ve got could make this a long-standing partnership and certainly the most successful in Premier League history.”

While Laporte has been immense most domestic eyes will focus on the ever-improving form of Stones, with English interests in mind. Dunne claims the 24 year old will not only be the bedrock on which the Three Lions can build from – Gareth Southgate is ‘lucky to have him’ in the estimation of the Blues legend – but from a City perspective can grow into becoming Vincent Kompany’s successor as the club’s leader and captain.

“Whether John Stones becomes the captain in the long-term or not he’s certainly becoming a leader in his own way. He had a tough first season when he signed because he made mistakes but he was always brave enough to stand up to it then come back out and try the same things. He’s gradually getting the mistakes out of his game and is improving all of the time and he’s someone who is happy to accept responsibility. He’d be a good captain for City.”

Read the full 888sport interview with Richard Dunne, including his thoughts on how Manchester United must reinvent themselves from the boardroom down to compete with City.