- Belgian midfielder benched at times
- Still posting plenty of assists
- Demanding coach always wants more
WHAT HAPPENED? The Belgium international midfielder is a two-time PFA Player of the Year and a four-time Premier League title winner, but the 31-year-old is considered to have seen lofty standards slip in 2022-23. De Bruyne still boasts more assists in the English top-flight this season (13) than any other player, while also teeing up three efforts in the Champions League, but Guardiola wants to see a classy operator do “the simple things” well again.
WHAT THEY SAID: Guardiola has said of a supposed dip from De Bruyne: “It’s been a difficult season for all of us, me included, due to the World Cup and many things. I’m not going to discover [how good] Kevin [is]. What I’d like – I spoke many times to him – is to go to the easy principles and do it well. He has an incredible ability to make an assist, to score goals and see passes like no one else. But I always have the belief that they will increase and get better when the simple things [are done]: like don’t lose the ball, the mobility, the incredible capacity to be active in the movement. The simple things: do it again better and better. When this is going to happen the rest will come along.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: With an abundance of creative options at his disposal, Guardiola has made it clear throughout the current campaign that nobody can take a place in his plans for granted. He said of De Bruyne back in October: “He is not playing at his top level. His dynamic [movements] are not perfect. He knows, I spoke to him.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty Images
WHAT NEXT? De Bruyne will be hoping to play a prominent role for City on Tuesday when they play host to RB Leipzig in the second leg of a Champions League last-16 encounter that is currently locked at 1-1 on aggregate.