Kevin De Bruyne. Credit: Getty.
Pep Guardiola and Kevin De Bruyne feel the latter’s performances are improving week on week after a tough start to the 2021/22.
The usually flawless Manchester City midfielder hasn’t been quite at his brilliant best in the opening months of the season, which is unsurprising since he has suffered from four separate injuries in 2021.
Despite that, De Bruyne is slowly improving on his showings and he registered his third goal of the campaign when he netted the second in City’s 2-0 win over Burnley on Saturday.
Next up for De Bruyne and co is a return to his homeland, when City face Club Brugge on Tuesday. Speaking ahead of the game, both the No.17 and Guardiola shared their views on De Bruyne’s start to the new term.
“I feel much much better,” said the 30-year-old, during Monday’s pre-match press conference. “There are still things that can go up, but I think after the last three months, with the ankle, even the last two or three months I didn’t train a lot.
“The last six months have been up and down, not really training. To come back, I was in pain in my ankle. It was good we took some time off after the Tottenham game [in August]. I feel much better, I feel myself getting stronger and I know the coaches are saying the same.”
Regular game time is key
As for Guardiola, he feels De Bruyne has to be at full fitness to perform at his absolute best but feels he is definitely getting the edge back into his game.
“He’s getting better,” Guardiola told reporters via video link. “We know the best Kevin, but he had some injuries, one muscular in the past, especially in the ankle and in the injury in the face in the final of the Champions league. But he’s getting better.
“Every game is better than before. The goals, the dynamic, the rhythm and the pace only has been given if you play regularly. He’s a guy, Kevin, that needs to be fit to be the best.
“His potential is the movement, is how to attack the space, how he moves, how he continues to do it. He’s getting better and it’s a good sign for us.”
Which injuries has De Bruyne had?
In 2021, the midfielder has suffered from four injuries. The first, which he picked up in February, was a hamstring issue that kept De Bruyne out for seven matches.
He also was managing a muscular niggle in May, but returned in time for the last few Premier League matches of 2020/21, as well as the Champions League final.
However, it was in the showpiece encounter against Chelsea where De Bruyne suffered perhaps his most gruesome injury of this year, when an Antonio Rudiger shoulder barge resulted in him fracture an eye orbit and sustained an acute nose fracture.
Finally, the former Chelsea man tore ankle ligaments during Euro 2020, although he did go on to play in the quarter-final against Italy. Yet the problem kept him out of the start to the new season and has prevented him playing to his maximum so far in 2021/22.