De Bruyne will challenge himself - Guardiola says he can do little to improve 'exceptional' City star

By Sports Desk February 29, 2020

Pep Guardiola says there is little he can offer to improve Kevin De Bruyne as he is the type of unique talent who will challenge himself to continue reaching greater heights.

De Bruyne has been the jewel in Guardiola's Manchester City crown since taking over at the Etihad Stadium ahead of the 2016-17 season.

The Belgium playmaker once again showed his importance to City with a stunning display in the midweek Champions League encounter at Real Madrid, which they won 2-1 to steal a lead in the last-16 tie.

After creating the first goal, the nerveless De Bruyne struck the winning penalty, a particularly vital moment given City had missed their previous four spot-kicks.

The praise continues to pour in from pundits for De Bruyne, a player who Guardiola says he has to offer little in terms of advice as he shoulders the responsibility himself.

"Honestly, these type of players, or most players I would say, the challenge comes from themselves, inside themselves," Guardiola said ahead of the EFL Cup final against Aston Villa. 

"If you have to push them to reach something special it's because they are not big, big, big. I don't like the players who complain about things. 

"As a guy he will want to reach something above what he has done, it depends on him. I don't believe too much to seduce them if you want to be a better player. 

"Players know what drills or skills to improve. It has to come from him, from something inside. The big outlets in all sorts come from inside, not because the trainers or someone has to tell them. 

"With the biggest one there is one detail, one special detail, is never complain, never make a complaint about the clubs, organisations, managers. They know the reality, they face the difficulties, they face, 'okay we are going to overcome, we are going to be better and better day by day and do it'. 

"That is only the biggest ones, the other ones they stay in positions and after they change clubs and they cannot be in the top clubs and all the time make the reason why this is for the other ones. 

"The big ones always look at himself, that is the best way. Unfortunately, it was not good enough when we went to 100 points to be the best player in the league. Maybe in the future."

Guardiola added that the only reminder he gives De Bruyne is to always keep things simple.

"It's not necessary to say absolutely anything about Kevin, just take a look how he plays," he added.

"At the end a player plays for himself and the manager through our teams. The performance, the continuity, the influence in our final third, in our finishing, in our desire, his calm and positivity. 

"When I say, 'Kevin, what did you feel before you take the penalty [against Real Madrid]?', he said, 'I'm going to score'. He doesn't feel much pressure, he likes to play in the big events. He is an exceptional player.

"Always I said to him the simple things Kevin, don't forget to do the simple things properly.

"Sometimes he's alone and loses the ball and I say, 'Kevin, you cannot do it because you are able to see something special, you have the spaces when no one can say sometimes you do it'. 

"But I think even with that he is improving and improving. You cannot forget he is not 33 years old or 34, he still has a lot of years to play and always you have the feeling when he is on the pitch, even when he's not taking influence in a period of a game especially, you always have the feeling that he's never disconnected and he has something to do and it's important."

Guardiola's side can win a fifth straight domestic trophy and third consecutive EFL Cup by beating Villa, something the City manager feels would be just reward for their "courage".

"The Carabao Cup is not the same as the Premier League and I would prefer to be winning the Premier League, but at the same time it is a good competition," Guardiola said. 

"I remember the first game when we were at Preston and we used Eric [Garcia] and Taylor [Harwood-Bellis] and they played to win the game.

"That is what I like of my teams, it happens all the time. There is not one opponent that can say they faced one of my teams, Manchester City, Bayern Munich or Barcelona, and we didn't try to win. 

"It takes courage and bravery to try to win all the time. Sometimes we have to defend more or use more long balls but that is only because we are up against a good opponent, not because we want to."

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