Manchester City captain Kevin De Bruyne was forced off the field in the 24th minute of the first game of the new Premier League season on Friday night.
Many, including the Belgian himself, were surprised to see him start the game as he had played only a few minutes in City’s pre-season campaign after just returning from a hamstring injury he suffered in the Champions League final in June.
Pep Guardiola was asked about this surprising inclusion before the game as well and he said that maybe De Bruyne will not play the whole 90 minutes but the team needs him and hence he starts.
It is safe to say that the Spanish genius got it wrong on this occasion as his key playmaker was clearly not fit enough to play at the intensity of the Premier League. He looked a little out of touch for the first 20 minutes of the game and then looked in discomfort as he crouched down with his hands on his knees, apparently injured.
De Bruyne looked dejected as he was comforted by his teammates and was then replaced by new signing Mateo Kovacic.
Guardiola, after the match, expressed his concerns over the Belgian’s fitness and confirmed that he had injured his hamstring again. The Spaniard said: “He was injured again unfortunately, same place and position as the Champions League [final] and he will be out for a while.”
“He has to relax, recover, and come back. He was feeling good and playing good in the first minutes. It depends on the magnitude of the injury but he will be a few weeks out,” the manager added.
The 32-year-old’s recurring hamstring problems and general fitness is becoming a growing concern for City. He has always been a player who misses out on a few games with injury every season but at an older age, recurring injuries are a source of deeper concern.
But his qualities are unquestionable and when fit, he is one of the best players in the world. He stayed fit for most of last season and contributed with 10 goals and 31 assists in all competitions to help his team achieve a historical treble.
De Bruyne’s absence from this game did not phase City one bit though as they went on to win their very first game of the new season, 0-3. Erling Haaland scored a brace in the first-half and a second-half goal from Rodri secured City’s first win on the road of the new Premier League campaign against newcomers Burnley, managed by a familiar face in Vincent Kompany.