Pep Guardiola has claimed Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne is the best midfielder in the world at present.
The Belgian has become an integral part of Guardiola’s winning machine in recent years and following the departure of Raheem Sterling to Chelsea, De Bruyne is the only player in the current City squad left from the one Guardiola inherited in 2016.
Guardiola was speaking as part of an in-depth interview with the club’s in-house media team about his time at the Etihad when he gave his view on the 31-year-old.
The City manager also expressed his view that De Bruyne knows himself that he’s become a ‘better’ player in the last year.
“I would say yes,” Guardiola responded when asked if De Bruyne is the best central midfielder on the planet. “I am so happy and he is the last player right now who is still here since we arrived.
“In this year [2021/22], particularly in the last part, he scored a lot of goals. He was not just involved in assists. Assists is the [best] quality he has, but especially with his goals in the key moments in the Premier League, he was an important player.
“I think he is more mature; he has incredible confidence and understands the game so well. I think he feels himself now a better player. He won’t admit it becuase he is so shy.
“With this amount of quality; how humble he is, how educated he is, how calm he is, he doesn’t want to pretend to be something different outside of what he is.
“Normally the biggest players are more like this than the normal players who believe they are masters,” the Catalan added.
Guardiola’s Foden warning
De Bruyne wasn’t the only player Guardiola singled out for praise in the 32-minute interview, the Catalan also admitted he very quickly recognised how talented Phil Foden was after joining the club.
But the City boss had a warning for the 22-year-old, who has already amassed an impressive four Premier League winner’s medals.
That level of success is unsustainable, Guardiola claimed, and he feels Foden’s career will have plenty of ‘ups and downs’.
“We saw from the beginning how talented he is and we thought from the beginning this guy cannot be loaned,” opined the former Barcelona chief.
“He will be with us, training with David Silva, Vincent [Kompany], with Sergio [Aguero], with all the players who had a lot of experience and who would help him with his development.
“There was no patience [needed] because immediately he was involved and playing 90 minutes. Now he’s a reality.
“Phil handles the pressure,” Guardiola added. “He is still enjoying playing football and feels he can improve.
“His career will [have] ups and downs, that’s for sure. Football is always ups and downs - not always [he] will be winning Premier Leagues and be on top.
“But if he keeps the passion that he has for playing football, enjoys the ball - every time he has the ball you see his eyes are so bright. While that happens, Phil will always be there. In the future when he retires, we will see what he has done.”