Man City star explains how Kevin De Bruyne has wowed team-mates since return from injury
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Nathan Ake has admitted even the Manchester City squad have been taken aback by Kevin De Bruyne’s immediate impact since his return from a five month injury lay-off.
The Belgian suffered a hamstring injury on the opening weekend of the Premier League season that kept him out of the side until 7th January when he returned and provided an assist in a 33-minute cameo against Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup.
Since then, De Bruyne has registered four assists in 215 minutes of league football, and once again produced the spark needed for City to claim victory on Saturday. After a stodgy opening hour, the 32-year-old breathed new life into a side as City went on to claim a vital three points against Everton thanks to Erling Haaland’s brace.
After nine years in England that has seen De Bruyne collect countless team and personal accolades, nothing should surprise the City squad, but even they have been blown away by rge midfielder’s impact since returning.
“Straight from the first already,” Ake said after the Everton victory. “I think everyone expected, you know, to give him a bit of time and stuff but straight away he’s fit, he’s been training really well in the gym, he’s working really hard and you could see on the pitch straight away he was ready to go.”
“To be honest, if you’re out for five or six months normally it takes you a little bit of time but… the way he was working, to be honest, with the physios, you could see in the first few months he was working so hard and giving everything to be ready. To be fair, he was straight away.”
De Bruyne’s return to the side has nicely coincided with that of Haaland, who missed two months with a foot injury. The pair combined on Saturday for the second goal as De Bruyne’s excellent through ball was latched onto by the Norwegian, who then confidently finished past Jordan Pickford.
Haaland described their connection as ‘perfect’ after the game, while the pair linking up is an ominous sign for City’s rivals, especially as the champions stretch their winning run to 10 games.
“We know how good both of them are and today again when he comes on straight away he looks for him, they look for each other,” said Ake. “It’s massive that they’re both fit, both ready to go and good to see that we’re doing well.”
Asked about the benefit of having Haaland back, City’s no.6 added: “Yeah, especially for these moments. Out of nothing, he can score. The people coming off the bench, I think they all did well and made a big difference, to open the game up a bit.
“He [Haaland] is so quick; he’s fast, he’s strong. In those spaces one vs one it’s very difficult. Most of the time teams sit a little bit deeper so there’s not much space for him to go but I think sometimes we can use him on the counter attack as we did today. When he’s got space like this it’s difficult to stop him.”