‘Only Messi above De Bruyne’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

MAN­CHES­TER CITY boss Pep Guardi­ola says he rates Kevin de Bruyne as highly as any player he has man­aged, with the ex­cep­tion of Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

The Bel­gian scored City’s first goal in a 4-0 win over Bournemouth on Satur­day.

He now has 18 goals and 16 as­sists in 48 games for the Blues, who have be­gun the sea­son with a club-record eight suc­ces­sive wins in all com­pe­ti­tions.

Guardi­ola said: “Messi is on a ta­ble on his own. No-one else is al­lowed. But the ta­ble be­side, Kevin can sit there.”

Through­out his stel­lar coach­ing ca­reer, 45-year-old Spa­niard Guardi­ola has man­aged some of the world’s finest play­ers, in­clud­ing Xavi and An­dres Ini­esta at Barcelona and Ar­jen Robben and Thomas Muller at Bay­ern Mu­nich.

De Bruyne has taken seven games to show his new man­ager how tal­ented he is, and took just 15 min­utes to score against Bournemouth, as he did in the Man­ches­ter derby at Old Traf­ford seven days ear­lier.

But it is the for­mer Chelsea man’s all-round con­tri­bu­tion that has caught Guardi­ola’s at­ten­tion.

“Kevin is out­stand­ing player,” he said. “With­out the ball he is the first fighter. With the ball he is clear. He sees ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing.

“He makes the right de­ci­sion in the right mo­ment ev­ery sin­gle time.”

De Bruyne is not one of the Premier League’s off-field show­men. But, ac­cord­ing to Guardi­ola, the 25-year-old is fiercely am­bi­tious, and keen to win the ma­jor in­di­vid­ual prizes that have been the pre­serve of Ar­gen­tine for­ward Messi and Real Madrid’s Por­tuguese star Cris­tiano Ron­aldo since 2008.

“I don’t know him too much but from what I can see he is a guy who likes to be at home with his wife and kids,” said Guardi­ola. “Be­fore the game he is re­laxed and quiet.

“He is one of the best, there is no doubt about that. We are lucky to have him.

“But to be the best, you have to win ti­tles. Maybe I am wrong but I think he would like to win th­ese in­di­vid­ual prizes.” — BBC Sport

Pep Guardi­ola (right) says he rates Kevin de Bruyne highly

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