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Kevin De Bruyne Dismisses Pep Guardiola's Claim He Was 'Exhausted' Last Season

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2018

Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gives instructions to Manchester City's Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 15, 2018. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has said he disagrees with Pep Guardiola's assessment that he was "exhausted" at the end of the previous campaign.

The Belgium international starred for City last term as they romped to the Premier League title with a record points haul. De Bruyne then headed off to the FIFA World Cup in Russia, where he helped his team to a creditable third-place finish.

This season has been significantly disrupted by injuries, although De Bruyne said he doesn't believe they stem back to any tiredness from the previous campaign, per Jonathan Smith of ESPN FC:

"I wasn't exhausted. I think in general people need a good summer break, sometimes we play for 11-and-a-half months at a time and there is not enough time to rest. 

"I had a rest of about three weeks—after 12 months of playing. Is that short? Probably, yes. But I felt OK to come back. It's not a lot to say, I came back and trained and was out after one week—it's just the way it goes."

Two separate injuries have limited De Bruyne to just four Premier League appearances this season, all of which have come as a substitute. The 27-year-old made his second return to the team on Saturday, as he helped City see out the final 15 minutes of their 3-1 win against Everton.

He was clearly pleased to get back on the field:

Kevin De Bruyne @DeBruyneKev

Finally. https://t.co/18TucrDrgE

After the game, De Bruyne said that getting physically reacclimatised to top-level football is his priority:

Kristof Terreur 📰🎥 @HLNinEngeland

Kevin De Bruyne: “I have no targets. I don't know when I will be back at my best. I just need some game time. I came on and just ran for 20 minutes. Not looking to play a good game, just run. That gives me a good boost physically and lets me get my lungs open for the next game.” https://t.co/07izAlV9Jl

With the calendar about to get congested over the festive period, De Bruyne's return to the XI has come at the perfect time for Guardiola, as he will be looking to rotate his squad and ensure the team negotiates this spell well.

The team has been hampered by numerous injury issues recently, with key men like Sergio Aguero and David Silva also missing. However, City have been performing well in the main and are just one point back on Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Should De Bruyne rediscover his best soon, he will give the team an enormous boost, as he was arguably the best player in English football's top flight last season.

Squawka Football summed up the profound influence he is capable of having on this incredible team:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Kevin De Bruyne for Man City in the Premier League in 2017/18: 🔵 Most chances created (106) 🔵 Most tackles won (62) 🔵 Most assists (16) 🔵 Most goals from outside the box (5) Huge miss. https://t.co/PiJ5M7WXjm

Given Guardiola's comments, it will be interesting to see how he goes about getting De Bruyne back to full sharpness. City are in action on Tuesday in the Carabao Cup, when they face Leicester City.

"They did brilliantly without me, but I'm sure they'll be happy that I'm back," said City's Player of the Year, per Smith. Provided he is slowly reintegrated to the team, there's no doubt about that whatsoever.

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