Pep Guardiola has urged Kevin De Bruyne to focus on the “simple things” to get back to his best.
The Belgium playmaker has not been at his most dynamic as Manchester City have struggled to match the high levels of consistency they have produced in recent years.
It remains relative, with the inspirational De Bruyne still having registered 17 assists in 34 appearances in a side chasing three trophies this term – three more assists than he managed in 45 games last season.
Yet with Guardiola having started him on the bench for three of the last seven Premier League games, the manager clearly feels the levels of one of his big-name stars have fallen.
Guardiola said: “It’s been a difficult season, I would say, for all of us, me included, (because of) the World Cup and many things.
“I’m not going to discover Kevin. Kevin has an ability to do it. What I’d like – I spoke many times to him – is to go to the easy principles and do it well.
“He has an incredible ability to make an assist, to score goals and see passes like no-one else, but I always have belief they will increase and will get better when the simple things, like don’t lose the ball, the mobility, the incredible capacity to be active in the movement, to do it again better and better, the rest will come along.
“It’s like Erling (Haaland). I don’t want him to just score goals and the rest I don’t care. He will score and he will be involved in the game.
“With Kevin it’s the same. When the simple things are done perfectly and we are in the right moment, the actions to create incredible passes that he – only he – can find, it will be easier, it will be better.”
Guardiola’s comments come on the back of Jamie Redknapp’s claim that Martin Odegaard has now usurped De Bruyne as the Premier League’s best midfielder.
“Right now he’s number one. There’s nobody [better],” Redknapp told Sky Sports.
“Normally we would say Kevin De Bruyne is the best midfield player, not just in the Premier League but the world. But something isn’t quite right. He isn’t playing as many games as he’d like.
“But Odegaard does this thing where – all great players possess it – it’s like time stands still when he has the ball.
“Most players [would rush the shot today], especially midfield players as we’re not used to getting in those situations.
“But the calmness that he possesses, he’s scored four or five goals like that with that left foot. He’s the captain, he’s the leader.
“Yeah, for me he’s number one [in the Premier League]. And he’s leading that team.
“The other thing he does as well, when he hasn’t got the ball he goes and presses it. He’s the first one, the first point of defence, he goes and presses and then all of a sudden it catches. He does it so well.”
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