Pep Guardiola reckons Manchester City will only grow stronger this season should Kevin De Bruyne return to his brilliant best.
After an extraordinary 2017/18 campaign, De Bruyne was set to be one of the key men again to help lead City’s charge for more glory last season.
A solid outing in the 2018 World Cup later helped cement De Bruyne’s ranking as one the best playmakers in the business.
Just as things were looking really good, however, the 28-year-old’s world came crashing down after suffering a set of serious injuries that left him sidelined for most of the last term.
But De Bruyne has returned for City and gave everyone a timely reminder of his quality on Saturday following a 45-minute cameo against Wolves in the Premier League Asia Trophy final.
While the Premier League champions lost the final 3-2 on penalties after a goalless draw, Guardiola was left upbeat over De Bruyne’s progress.
“He’s been top,” said City boss Guardiola, according to the Express.
“Unfortunately last season we missed him a lot. We did incredibly well without him but we are stronger with him.
“Last season he didn’t have holiday but he has had more time to rest and he came back like he did two seasons ago. Hopefully he can keep his level.
“He’s a guy who likes to play football. He’s a huge competitor. What we want now is to be calm and not get injuries.”
Meanwhile, the former Chelsea midfielder also gave City supporters a positive update on his situation earlier this week.
“I think it’s going to be easier for me,” said De Bruyne.
“I came back and got injured after four days so my season was very disrupted.
“When I played I was happy with myself but I couldn’t reach the level that I reached before because I played 70 games without interruption. To have to stop five times is more difficult.
“I’m just preparing myself easily and I know we’ve got four weeks until the first league game.”
De Bruyne and City will next face Chinese club Kitchee next Wednesday for a friendly in Hong Kong.