LONDON (Reuters) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was back on familiar ground on Saturday, singing the praises of Kevin De Bruyne after the Belgian midfielder scored the goal that put his club back at the top of the Premier League.
Asked after City’s 1-0 win over champions Chelsea if De Bruyne’s form was surprising him, Guardiola said: “No. He can do absolutely everything.
“With the ball, he can take up different positions and assist both short and long. Without the ball, he is the most humble and shy guy. He says: ‘If I have to run 100 kilometres for the team, I am going to do that’,” Guardiola told a news conference.
“It’s not easy to find that with this kind of talented player. That’s why he is one of our captains and I think he has made a step forward.”
De Bruyne continued his outstanding start to the season by rifling a left-footed shot past Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the 67th minute of the game at Stamford Bridge after a neat one-two with Gabriel Jesus.
His goal, however, told just part of the story on Saturday.
His incisive passing, movement, back-tracking, pressing, tackling and forward runs were of the highest standard in another excellent performance from one of the league’s stand-out players this season.
Guardiola, who signed De Bruyne two years ago after watching him play in the Bundesliga, publicly praised the former Chelsea player earlier this month for his quality, commitment and intelligence.
The manager said Saturday’s win was important but dismissed any suggestion that it meant that City, who lead local rivals Manchester United on goal difference, were already favourites for the title.
“Of course, it is important, winning at Stamford Bridge and winning three points that they are not able to win,” he said.
“But it is September. Chelsea won 15 games in a row last season and were unbeatable. This season they have more problems because they have to play every three days.”