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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Relaxed Kevin de Bruyne confident of signing a new deal with Manchester City

The Belgian was on target in City's 2-1 first leg win over Bristol City in the English League Cup semi-finals on Tuesday at the Etihad Stadium.

Kevin de Bruyne was on the scoresheet for Manchester City in their 2-1 win over Bristol City. Nigel Roddis / EPA
Kevin de Bruyne was on the scoresheet for Manchester City in their 2-1 win over Bristol City. Nigel Roddis / EPA

Kevin de Bruyne can be a blur of perpetual motion on the pitch. He is in less of a hurry off it. Even the prospect of a pay rise will not make him rush to sign a new deal.

Not that it is anything for Manchester City to worry about. The frontrunner for the Footballer of the Year award is already contracted until 2021. There is confidence on both sides that an extended and improved agreement will be reached, potentially soon.

“Probably,” the midfielder said. “I'm not in a hurry. I still have three-and-a-half years on the contract."

That relaxed approach is shared by others in his camp, with De Bruyne explaining the hold-up.

"We are still in negotiations. I am waiting for an offer from the club but my agent has been on holiday for three weeks. There is nothing really new. I cannot complain for the moment. Obviously we will see what happens. Negotiations are going good but they are going quietly. That is the way I think it should be."

If discussions with De Bruyne are on the backburner, other issues are more pressing. City bid for Alexis Sanchez last summer and had originally intended to leave it until the forthcoming summer, when he will be available on a free transfer, to try and sign the Chilean.

Then Gabriel Jesus sustained a knee injury that left City with a solitary fit striker. Arsene Wenger said there had been no January offers for the winger but refused to guarantee he will stay at Arsenal.

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A footballer Pep Guardiola signed for Barcelona could be reunited with his former manager sooner than anticipated. De Bruyne suggested it is a question of when, rather than if, Sanchez becomes a teammate.

"A very good player,” the midfielder said. “Obviously we will see what happens in this transfer period.

"If a good player comes to us that is better, if he doesn't come we do it with the team we have. We are on a good period already, the whole season. When he comes he will add something to the team."

City have scarcely needed Sanchez so far. They have only dropped four points in the Premier League. They take an advantage into the second leg of the English League Cup semi-final.

De Bruyne levelled against Bristol City before Sergio Aguero added to their litany of important late goals this season with an injury-time winner.

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Guardiola referenced his side’s spirit as a reason for them. De Bruyne argued it reflects a style of football, involving perpetual possession, that exhausts opponents.

“People get tired,” he said. “Even if they press or stand back, it is difficult for other teams. We try to play the ball around and you see the last 20 minutes there are almost 11 players in the box.”

That tiredness, he felt, accounted for the comparatively diminutive Aguero winning a header in a penalty area containing supersized centre-backs. His leveller reflected another part of the ethos.

It further illustrated why Guardiola wants a footballing goalkeeper. Claudio Bravo pass took six Bristol City players out of the game with a pass to De Bruyne, whose surge forward ensured they were still behind him when he met Raheem Sterling’s return ball to finish.

“Obviously it was a good goal and it started with Claudio,” De Bruyne said. “Our keepers know how to play it.”

Standing in as skipper, his was an all-action display featuring driving runs.

“It is more of a sign of trust,” he added. “I always try to play the same. I tried to change the game in the second half.”

He did and he should have silverware as well as a contract to celebrate.

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