Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne feels a complete break from football over the summer has given him the perfect lift for the new campaign.
The Belgium international played only a bit-part in City’s outstanding treble-winning 2018/19 season due to a series of injuries.
It now seems those problems could be behind the 28-year-old after his standout performances on City’s pre-season tour of Asia over the past fortnight.
Prior to the trip De Bruyne enjoyed a couple of holidays with his family, time away he felt was much needed after his previous two seasons ran into each other because of the 2018 World Cup.
De Bruyne said: “I did nothing for three weeks. I just wanted to be away.
“I run a lot with the kids anyway, so I burn a lot of energy, but I just wanted to be away from football. I had been playing for two years straight. I just wanted to enjoy myself a little bit. I did some trips with family and friends.
“Physically you can be OK but I think it is more mentally. It is tough to go two years straight for everybody and not have a proper break. That is what happened the last two years.
“Now I felt for myself that is was necessary to just slow it down a little bit and go again in pre-season. I knew I would have enough time now to prepare myself for the season, so that’s what I decided to do.”
Despite his reduced role last season – most notably starting only 11 Premier League games – De Bruyne insists he did not feel left out of the team’s successes.
He said: “I don’t have that feeling. I played half of the games, so I was there. Obviously I wanted to play more but I am very happy.
“If I am not there or am there, I am on the team to win. That is why I play for this team but in the end I hope to get less injuries and play a little bit more, obviously.”
City have now returned home having concluded their tour with victory over sister club Yokohama F Marinos on Saturday, a game in which De Bruyne scored and set up another.
They begin their season against Liverpool in the Community Shield next Sunday.
Great game to end the pre season. Thank you japan.— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) July 27, 2019
You were great. Time to go home now and see the family pic.twitter.com/xF75SkXAFZ
De Bruyne knows expectations on City will be high this term having collected five major trophies in the past two years.
He said: “We don’t need to beat the last two seasons – maybe we can win this season with 85 points.
“It is not about improving, it is about staying consistent, trying to be there every game, trying to win every game. It is not always about doing better, because how can you do better sometimes?
“To win every year what we won the last two years is going to be pretty difficult but it is good to be there. We are always competing in every trophy. We take it seriously.”
Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season? We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.
We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgment on whether the move really will happen – and why.
Today’s edition features potential signings for Inter Milan, Manchester United and PSG.
RUMOUR: Manchester United -> £75million -> Inter Milan
Romelu Lukaku has dropped a massive hint that he is set to leave Manchester United, according to Manchester Evening News. The Belgian international posted a picture on his Twitter account alongside his agent Federico Pastorello with the caption “Soon to be continued”.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: With Lukaku very much out of favour at Old Trafford, a move to the Serie A would be an ideal change for a player who looks low on confidence. And with Mauro Icardi out of Antonio Conte’s plans at the San Siro, Lukaku would be the ideal marquee signing.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Juventus are also monitoring Lukaku’s situation and could join the race for his signature. If a deal is on the table from the Turin side, the 26-year-old may opt to sign with them instead, because of the lure to win trophies and playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.
RUMOUR: Sporting Lisbon -> €70m -> Manchester United
Manchester United are very close to signing Sporting Lisbon star Bruno Fernandes, according to Sport.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has targeted the 24-year-old to strengthen his midfield, especially with Paul Pogba looking intent on a move away from Old Trafford. Fernandes is believed to have already agreed personal terms with the Red Devils, but Sporting are continuing to hold out for a fee closer to €70m before anything is confirmed.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Only something drastic breaking down at the last minute can see this deal not getting over the line.
RUMOUR: Everton -> €31m -> PSG
Everton boss Marco Silva has insisted that club have not reached an agreement with PSG for midfielder Idrisse Gueya, according to the Liverpool Echo.
WHY IT WILL HAPPEN: The French giants have been chasing the Senegal international since the January transfer window and are increasingly confident they will get their man, with Gueye set to undergo a medical as early as next week.
WHY IT WON’T HAPPEN: Although Silva is primed to losing Gueye, PSG are unlikely to offer much more than €31 million for a 30-year-old. And Everton aren’t going to let him go on the cheap.
Kevin De Bruyne feels ready for the new campaign after playing a full part in Manchester City’s pre-season tour of Asia.
The Belgium midfielder, the key player in City’s 2018 title victory, played only a bit-part in last season’s treble success due to knee and muscular injuries.
But the 28-year-old now hopes those issues are behind him after proving to be one of the stand-out players of the four games City have played in the Far East over the past fortnight.
De Bruyne, who scored a goal and set up another in Saturday’s 3-1 win over sister club Yokohama F Marinos in Japan, said: “I’m fine. What happened last year happens to everybody. I have been a professional for 11 years now and had one season where I had some injuries.
“But by the end of the year I still played 32 games while a lot of players only do that every year. I just get on with it.
“Now I feel good. I’m happy I could play a whole pre-season. I’ve played four games.”
City faced familiar opposition in West Ham and Wolves in the Premier League Asia Trophy in China but both games lacked intensity and they then enjoyed a comfortable 6-1 win over Hong Kong side Kitchee.
The Yokohama clash was different, with the side currently second in the J-League providing more of a test in a vibrant atmosphere at the Nissan Stadium, the venue which hosted the 2002 World Cup final.
“It was a really good game,” said De Bruyne, who opened the scoring in the 19th minute. “I was very impressed how Yokohama played.
“They’re right in the middle of their season so physically they are much better than us and they gave us a good game.
“I’m happy with the way we performed here. We’ve had a tough schedule the past two weeks. We needed this game to get more rhythm and it was a good game to end the pre-season.”
De Bruyne’s strike was quickly cancelled out by Keita Endo but the Belgian played in Sterling to put City back ahead before half-time. Lukas Nmecha bundled in a third late on.
City now return home to prepare for the Community Shield against Liverpool at Wembley next Sunday.
The tour started badly with the initial flight to China delayed by two days but De Bruyne feels the trip has been beneficial.
He said: “It is always a tough ask because obviously you travel a lot and you need to do a lot of commercial activities, and in another sense you need to prepare yourself physically.
“Obviously August is a bit more quiet. I think it starts really in September for us when all the European games come but obviously next week is a game where you can win a trophy, so we want to be ready to play a good game against Liverpool. We’ll see what happens.”
Provided by Press Association Sport