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Why a ‘grumpy’ De Bruyne is good news for Man City as Guardiola hails ‘absolute legend’

6:58 pm AEDT 23/12/22
Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City 2022-23
Pep Guardiola is always happy to see a “grumpy” Kevin De Bruyne at Manchester City, as he saluted an “absolute legend”.
  • Belgian playmaker pulling the strings
  • Starred in cup clash with Liverpool
  • Endured frustrating time at World Cup

WHAT HAPPENED? The Belgium midfielder was at his destructive best during a Carabao Cup fourth round clash with Liverpool on Thursday as he pulled the strings in a 3-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium. De Bruyne has nothing to prove to anybody, as the four-time Premier League champion and two-time PFA Player of the Year, but he did suffer more international disappointment at the 2022 World Cup and appears ready to take out that frustration on domestic opposition.

WHAT THEY SAID: Guardiola told Sky Sports after seeing De Bruyne provide two assists in a thrilling cup clash with old adversaries Liverpool: “Today was outstanding. Kevin has been eight years here. He just needs sometimes to find the right fire inside of himself, you know, to be a little bit, I would say, I don’t know, grumpy or upset to play his best. He had to put the energy inside of him. When this happens, what a player. The runs, the fight, assists, score goals. He is a model player.

“I know it's not easy to find every three days this consistency but in the important games, like today was, it has something inside say: ‘I’m going to do it, I’m going to be contact, I’m going to fight.’ When this happens, it’s Mr Kevin De Bruyne. What can I say? Eight years has done everything for this club. He is absolute legend. He will be remembered forever one of the greatest, greatest, greatest players of all-time for this club.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: De Bruyne showed no sign of rust in his first competitive outing since enduring a group stage exit with his country at Qatar 2022, with the 31-year-old’s passing and crossing games in full working order.

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Premier League title holders City will be back in top-flight action on December 28 when taking in a trip to Leeds, with Guardiola’s side hitting the World Cup break sat second in the table – five points behind leaders Arsenal.