Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola wants creator-in-chief Kevin de Bruyne 'to stay for as long as possible'
City face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Uefa Champions League at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday
Pep Guardiola has declared that Manchester City want to keep Kevin de Bruyne for as long as they can as they hope to give him an extended and improved contract.
The Belgian has almost four seasons left on the six-year deal he signed when he joined from Wolfsburg in 2015 but City are willing to reward the influential midfielder with a pay rise.
De Bruyne was the most creative player in the Premier League last season, recording 18 assists, and has become vital for Guardiola, who said: “As a club, we want Kevin to stay for as long as possible.”
In the shorter term, Sergio Aguero could cement his place in City history when they host Shakhtar Donetsk in the Uefa Champions League on Tuesday.
The Argentine scored his 176th City goal in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Crystal Palace, leaving him only one behind Eric Brook’s club record, which has stood since the 1930s and Guardiola added: “There is no doubt Sergio is one of the best strikers in the world.
While Aguero had his most prolific campaign for City last season, scoring 33 goals, Guardiola believes the 29-year-old marksman has also become more of a complete player during his reign.
Aguero has already managed three assists this season and the City manager explained: “Maybe now we play more with him. We are looking not just in the finishing. Before maybe Sergio just scores a goal. Now in the process when [defenders] John [Stones] or Nico [Otamendi] or Vinnie [Kompany] has the ball we know always he is there.”
Right-back Kyle Walker, who suffered at Aguero’s hands during his time at Tottenham Hotspur, paid tribute to the striker.
“To play against he is a nightmare,” he said. “Facing him over numerous seasons, he always seemed to score against us. It was frustrating. Having him on the same team is a bonus. He is a quality player. If things aren’t going well, he is the kind of player who can produce that bit of magic.
“He has a winning mentality and he wants the best. Anything below par and he will be one of the first to say: ‘Come on, this isn’t right. Let’s pick it up.’”
City’s September has been almost perfect, with five wins, 22 goals scored and just one conceded but Guardiola warned against complacency.
They won their first 10 matches last season, a run that was halted in their second Champions League fixture.
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“The players know it is September. There is a long time to go," he said. "The last years Manchester City always start good and after were not able to achieve the results. We go game by game.
“The players today are going to see how good Shakhtar Donetsk are and hopefully I can convince them to take seriously. It is the seventh time I play against Shakhtar and it was always so tough for me.”
That modesty ignored the reality that Shakhtar’s record European defeat was 7-0 to Guardiola’s Bayern Munich but he highlighted their opening Champions League win.
“Napoli are one of the three or four or five best teams playing football, they are leading the Italian league and they beat them.”
City could be without two of their first-choice defenders as Benjamin Mendy will have a fitness test on his injured knee while Vincent Kompany and Ilkay Gundogan are both out.
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Updated: September 26, 2017 12:00 PM