Friday 9 December 2016

Pep Guardiola hails 'outstanding' Kevin De Bruyne

Published 17/09/2016 | 19:31

Kevin De Bruyne, left, is congratulated by his manager Pep Guardiola
Kevin De Bruyne, left, is congratulated by his manager Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola described Kevin De Bruyne as being "on another level" after the playmaker put in another superb performance as Manchester City maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with a 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth.

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De Bruyne was the standout player in a brilliant team display by City at the Etihad Stadium, where goals from him, Kelechi Iheanacho, Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan secured a fifth straight Premier League win and eighth from eight games in all competitions this term.

And City boss Guardiola said: "I think he is a special, outstanding player.

"He makes everything. Without the ball he is the first fighter, and with the ball he is clear - he sees absolutely everything.

"Every time he makes the right decision. That is why he is a player on another level.

"We are lucky to have him and I hope he can enjoy playing his amazing football with us."

Asked if he thought De Bruyne was the Premier League's best player, Guardiola said: "I don't know.

"Of course, he is one of the best, there is no doubt about that, but to be the best, it depends on what you are going to win.

"If you are able to win titles, there will be a chance for that. Maybe. Maybe I'm wrong.

"I think he would like to win these individual prizes - all the players like that. But I think he is happy when he plays with performances like today."

When then asked about how De Bruyne ranked among the great players he has managed, ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola said: "He's one of them.

"When we talk about (Lionel) Messi, maybe he can sit alone in the table, with no-one else allowed. But in the table beside, Kevin can sit there."

By starting the season with eight successive victories, Guardiola's City have achieved something unprecedented for the club.

But the Spaniard played down the significance of that, emphasising instead that the important thing was winning again only three days after the 4-0 home Champions League triumph against Borussia Monchengladbach.

"Numbers are numbers and records will be beaten," said Guardiola, who took charge over the summer.

"What's important is we won a game just three days after a Champions League game, which is always tough.

"And Bournemouth were until now the best team with the ball (we have faced) - the other teams have played long balls."

The only real negative for City was Nolito being red-carded late on for aiming an apparent headbutt at Adam Smith - a decision the Blues boss said he had no argument with.

Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe, meanwhile, accepted his side were outplayed.

"It was a difficult day," he said. "Our plan wasn't to sit as deep as we did first half but we ended up getting trapped with nowhere to go.

"Fair play to them. They were better than us today. But I don't really look at the result, I look at the performance and overall I was disappointed. I feel we can do better than that.

"Yes, I give them a lot of credit for the way they played but I felt we could have done better without the ball and definitely better with the ball. We had our moments but didn't make the most of those opportunities and overall I leave here frustrated with the team."

England midfielder Jack Wilshere failed to impress on his first start since joining the Cherries on loan from Arsenal. Wilshere conceded the free-kick which led to City's opener and was substituted after 68 minutes.

Howe said: "It was difficult for Jack. We want to see Jack in their half and in the final third but we didn't get there enough so to see his best qualities was impossible today.

"But the minutes will have done him the world of good and once he fully understands how we play and what we want him to do, I think he will be an excellent player for us."

Press Association

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