It’s alarming to think Manchester City achieved what they did last season largely without the help of Kevin De Bruyne.
The Belgian played just 32 matches in all competitions throughout a 2018-19 campaign peppered with niggling injuries throughout.
He damaged ligaments in his right knee during a training session three days after City kicked off their Premier League title defence against Arsenal, ruling him out for two months.
De Bruyne returned to action midway through October only to suffer the same injury to his other knee.
Recovering from that setback wasn’t the end of his woes, though, and a series of knocks restricted him to four 90-minute league outings following the turn of the year.
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But De Bruyne did finish the season in the style expected of him, scoring a goal and assisting another in a superb 35-minute cameo during City’s FA Cup final victory over Watford.
The midfielder has continued that form in pre-season with a commanding first-half display in the Premier League Asia Trophy decider in China.
Although Pep Guardiola’s side ultimately lost to Wolves on penalties, De Bruyne looked to be in good knick three weeks out from the opening match of the new campaign.
His virtuoso performance was summed up by a mesmerising 40-yard pass - struck on the half-volley, no less - to find a teammate in acres of space on the left flank.
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It’s crazy to think City could’ve ‘missed’ anyone during their emphatic march to a second Premier League title last season, yet Guardiola has no hesitation in admitting they did.
“He was top,” the Spaniard said of De Bruyne’s performance against Wolves, per the official club website.
“Unfortunately last season we miss him a lot. We did incredibly well without him but we are stronger with him.
“Last season he had no holidays, this team he has had time to rest. Hopefully he can reach his level. He is very positive in his mind. He made an incredible first half, really good.
“He’s a guy who likes to play football - a huge competitor.
“He never loses confidence in himself.
“For the physical condition and don’t get injured, that is the most important thing for him tonight. He is a player who is incredible.”
To the detriment of the rest of the top-flight, Guardiola must be licking his lips at the thought of having De Bruyne available from day one of his fourth season at the Etihad.News Now - Sport News