How do Man City replace Kevin De Bruyne? Lucas Paqueta, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and the six alternatives after midfield star suffers serious hamstring injury

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Kevin De Bruyne Kvaratskhelia Paqueta split
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The treble winners have been dealt a huge blow after losing the talismanic Belgian until the end of the year

Manchester City always knew they were going to have their work cut out to try and match the achievements of last season after winning the treble. And now they will be without arguably their most important player for a huge chunk of the campaign after it was revealed Kevin De Bruyne may need to undergo surgery to treat a serious hamstring injury.

De Bruyne contributed to a stonking 42 goals last season, scoring 10 times and providing 32 assists. And he delivered at pivotal moments, grabbing the first goal in the title decider against Arsenal, firing in a stunning equaliser from long-range against Real Madrid in the first leg of City's Champions League semi-final tie, and setting up Ilkay Gundogan's winner in the FA Cup final against Manchester United, to name just a few instances.

City still have a squad capable of winning the Premier League and going deep in cup competitions, but things will be far harder for them without De Bruyne, who had also worked up a productive partnership with Erling Haaland.

GOAL assesses who should fill his boots for the next four months...

  1. Lucas Paqueta (West Ham)
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    Lucas Paqueta (West Ham)

    City first declared their interest in Lucas Paqueta before De Bruyne suffered a relapse of his hamstring injury and now that the true extent of the injury has been revealed, they look even more likely to sign the Brazilian.

    Paqueta does not have anything like the strike or assist rate of De Bruyne but in the last two seasons he has grown into an outstanding midfielder and has the self-belief to come in and take the Belgian's place in the City team.

    His ability to thread passes through tight gaps make him a potential asset to Guardiola's side while the Catalan coach also admires his versatility. He will not come cheap, however. West Ham have rejected City's initial offer of £70 million ($89m) for Paqueta and are thought to be demanding as much as £90m ($120m).

  2. Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund)
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    Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund)

    City have done a lot of shopping at Borussia Dortmund lately, signing Erling Haaland, Manuel Akanji and Sergio Gomez from the Bundesliga side last summer. And Brandt would be a logical next target for them after spearheading the Black and Yellows' title bid, which fell agonisingly short on the final day of last season.

    The Germany international can play behind the striker as a No.10 or on either side of the midfield three, and is hugely productive, scoring nine goals and providing eight assists last season.

  3. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)
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    Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Napoli)

    A year ago, very few football fans had even heard the name of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. Flash forward to the present and the Georgian has turned into one of the most coveted players in the world after helping inspire Napoli to last year's Serie A title.

    Kvaratskhelia, lovingly known as 'Kvaradona' in Naples, scored 12 goals and contributed 10 assists in 2022-23. The 22-year-old has breathtaking dribbling skills and is also a willing presser, winning the ball back in the final third 35 times last season.

    City fans already have a lot of love for Georgian footballers after the success of Georgi Kinkladze in an otherwise dark period for the club, and they would undoubtedly welcome the country's latest star with open arms.

  4. Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)
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    Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)

    Florian Wirtz has been causing a stir since he was a teenager. The German attacking midfielder became Bayer Leverkusen's youngest-ever player in 2020 at the age of 17 years and 16 days, and contributed to 27 goals in his first two full seasons in the Bundesliga.

    A serious knee injury in 2022 derailed his progress, but he has come back stronger and reasserted himself in Xabi Alonso's side, getting four goals and eight assists since returning. Signing him this summer would see City skip the queue ahead of what is likely to be quite the fight in the summer of 2024, if Wirtz remains a Leverkusen player until then.

  5. Gabri Veiga (Celta Vigo)

    Gabri Veiga (Celta Vigo)

    The Spanish midfielder broke into the Celta Vigo team last August and quickly became one of the team's most influential players, scoring an astonishing 11 times from midfield while adding four assists, contributing to more than a third of the struggling side's goals.

    He has been at the centre of transfer speculation this summer and spent the entirety of a recent press conference with Spain's Under-21 side fielding questions about interest from Real Madrid and Barcelona. City also showed interest in signing him but eventually turned away from a deal.

    Veiga is now close to moving to Napoli but the De Bruyne injury could tempt City into attempting to hijack the move. He is easily within the club's reach as he has a £35m ($44m) buy-out clause, and City could offer him a more favourable salary than the Serie A champions.

  6. Show some faith in Phil Foden
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    Show some faith in Phil Foden

    Phil Foden was the man who came off the bench in Istanbul to replace De Bruyne when he broke down in the Champions League final. And City's homegrown hero showed he was perfect for the role, helping Guardiola's side finally beat an intelligent Inter side by playing his part in Rodri's goal. He nearly scored a second after tearing his way through the Italian side's defence too.

    Foden has spoken of his desire to move centrally and in the 3-0 win against Burnley he thrived in the midfield role. If the experiment continues to goes well, the 23-year-old can take the baton from De Bruyne when he eventually leaves City.

  7. What City should do

    What City should do

    City have never stood still as a club and are always planning for the future. They would not have expected to have needed to find a De Bruyne replacement so soon - especially after just saying goodbye to Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez - but the fact is they will have to look for a successor for the Belgian within the next two years anyway.

    Why wait until then? The injury is undoubtedly a blow but it is also an opportunity to sign the player they want now. And, with all respect to Foden, he is of a different mould to De Bruyne and will struggle to succeed his injured team-mate.

    That is why City should go all out and sign Khvicha Kvaratskhelia from Napoli. The Georgian would cost a lot of money (around £90m/$114m) but at the age of 22 he could spend the next decade at the Etihad. He is one of few players out there whose goal and assist numbers can compare with De Bruyne's before the Belgian joined City from Wolfsburg in 2015.