Kevin De Bruyne’s injury report provides six Man City stars opportunity to acquire a place in Pep Guardiola’s XI

Kevin De Bruyne’s injury report provides six Man City stars opportunity to acquire a place in Pep Guardiola’s XI

Pep Guardiola enters the upcoming season with two vacancies in the center of Manchester City’s midfield, which is unusual. However, with gaps come opportunities; all that is required is for someone to seize them.

One of the positions is only available temporarily. Kevin De Bruyne fought valiantly through a hamstring injury during the crucial end-of-season run-in as City closed in on the treble, but the wear and tear eventually caught up with him thirty minutes into the Champions League final, at the worst possible time. It was devastating for the Belgian, who was also forced off in his first Champions League final appearance two years prior, but at least Chelsea won this time.

It is anticipated that De Bruyne will miss the opening of the new season due to his hamstring injury. Given the severity of the injury, a prognosis of his recovery time has been made, but it has not been officially confirmed. If the 32-year-old is unable to participate in the initial games, both attacking midfield positions will need to be filled.

This is because his usual playing partner, Ilkay Gundogan, has departed the club for Barcelona. It will be fascinating to see how Guardiola sets up his midfield in the absence of one of his most important players in the wake of the loss of the captain, who was so instrumental in the treble victory.
Fortunately for City, despite losing Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, they still have numerous contenders, and if De Bruyne is out for an extended period, they will have more opportunities to establish their claim. De Bruyne will reclaim his position once he is completely recovered, but the position vacated by Gundogan will be filled by the player who performs the best.

Mateo Kovacic is the most credible candidate. The distinguished Croatian international may not be viewed as Gundogan’s direct replacement, but he has assumed his No. 8 jersey and is cut from the same cloth.

The ex-Chelsea player is similarly dynamic, graceful in possession, combative, and tactically astute, despite not posing as much of a goal threat or being as well-integrated into the system. Kovacic appears to be the most qualified candidate to replace Gundogan.

But perhaps the time has come for Phil Foden to assume his position in midfield. The local icon was touted as the heir to David Silva’s crown, but Guardiola has played him on the wing because he does not believe he is ready for the responsibilities of a central position.

Until the final few weeks of the season, when he was gradually granted more minutes in the middle, culminating in Foden replacing De Bruyne in Istanbul, he played primarily on the wing. As one of the few players who was not overawed by the magnitude of the occasion, he excelled and helped restore City to life after a shaky start. Perhaps he is now prepared to assume the role permanently.

Since moving to City, Julian Alvarez has had to adjust his game because he cannot head the line when Erling Haaland is healthy, and the Argentine has done so admirably. Alvarez has frequently filled in for De Bruyne during his rest periods and has performed admirably when offered opportunities in the attacking midfield position. His versatility will make him so valuable to Guardiola, and if he is given the opportunity, he may perform well enough to assume the role on a regular basis.

Kalvin Phillips, on the other hand, had a catastrophic first season at the Etihad and, if any, had a negligible impact on a successful campaign. He is adopting a firm stance of staying put and fighting for his position, but he must make tremendous strides if he wishes to increase his few minutes.

Gundogan’s departure may have made him Rodri’s primary backup, though Kovacic can also play a holding role. However, Phillips has demonstrated in the past that he has the necessary abilities to play further forward. If an opportunity presents itself, he must seize it because he will not have many more.

Finally, City has a plethora of talented young players who should attempt to grasp the opportunity and advocate for more playing time. Cole Palmer did not develop as quickly as anticipated last season, but he still possesses an abundance of talent, as demonstrated by England Under-21s’ European Championship victory.

James McAtee also has an excellent opportunity. Guardiola was impressed with the 20-year-old’s character after he overcame a difficult start to flourish at Sheffield United last season, with the playmaker’s efforts helping to propel the Blades to promotion. So much so that City has rebuffed significant transfer interest in him this summer in order to see if he can earn a spot on the team through hard work.

Kevin De Bruyne’s injury report provides six Man City stars opportunity to acquire a place in Pep Guardiola’s XI