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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 August 2018

Kevin De Bruyne: Manchester City's midfield metronome revels in 'senior player' role for title-winning season

The Belgian midfielder offers his thoughts on winning his first Premier League title, working with Pep Guardiola and the importance of building for the future

Kevin de Bruyne has been central to Manchester City's Premier League success this season. AFP
Kevin de Bruyne has been central to Manchester City's Premier League success this season. AFP

On how it was won

“I don’t think we would have expected to win it in that way [with Manchester United's defeat by West Bromwich Albion], but it doesn’t matter to us. For a lot of us, it’s a first Premier League trophy and that means more than how it was won.

"The season is obviously much more than just this weekend and across the whole year we’ve done really well, so if it is settled without playing then we don’t really mind. We have the chance to end the season in front of our fans knowing that we are champions and that will be special.”

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Pep Guardiola plays golf with Tommy Fleetwood as Manchester City clinch title

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On the club’s young core and the need for sustained success

“Of course, the club has planned for this [with the recruitment of young players] and we want to make that [sustained success] happen now. It’s no coincidence that the type of players brought in over the last year or two have all been of a similar age and we will look to build as a group together.

"The feeling amongst the squad is great. We have enjoyed the season a lot but there is work to do if we want to achieve more in future. That can be the trickiest thing in football, to not only win but keep winning. Having such a young squad will hopefully help us to achieve that.”

On Pep Guardiola

“Everyone knows he’s one of the best coaches in the world. To achieve what he has achieved in the game is special and to be part of a group of players led by him can only help us to keep developing.

"He came in two years ago and changed the way we play. That obviously takes time to adapt to, but we’ve developed together and this season is a reward for all that work. What we want to do now is continue playing the way we have this season and become even stronger. He’s a big part of that and hopefully these can be his first trophies of many here at City.”

On being a senior player and one of the squad 'captains'

“It was definitely a change for me. You get used to being a younger player in the team and then as the club brings new players in you realise you’ve become one of the senior guys.

"It’s been great to be part of the group and take on the extra responsibility, but at the same time the whole team has achieved this together. This hasn’t been about one player or one group of players. It’s been about having a mixture of young guys and players who have been around a little longer, understand the competition a bit better and coming together to be champions.”

On European ambitions

“Of course, that’s the next step for us. I think we have played some great games in the [Uefa] Champions League and we’ve not been too far away. Maybe we haven’t gone as far as we would have liked, but there have been performances along the way that show we could do something special in the future.

"It’s great to play at the highest level and success doesn’t come easy when you’re playing against teams who have been around it for so many years, but we improved a little on last season and we’ll look to do the same again next year. It’s what we all want. To do the best we can in all of the competitions and the Champions League is no different.”

On looking ahead to next season

“We will see what happens in the summer. Of course it’s important for the club to add new players and to keep getting stronger. That’s true for all teams.

"We have a great group of players right now and with a few additions here and there hopefully that will take us on to another level. Competition will be even tougher next season and we have to be ready for that. Not only in the Premier League but in the Champions League and the cup competitions, too.

"If we want to keep achieving I think competition for places is a good thing and only makes you try to improve as a player.”

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