Kevin de Bruyne has admitted it will be hard for him to reproduce last season’s heroics for Manchester City.
De Bruyne produced a record-equalling 20 assists in the Premier League last season – 23 in total – and scored 16 goals in all competitions.
Those exploits earned the City star the PFA Player of the Year award and underlined his accepted status as the best midfielder in the world.
De Bruyne began the new Premier League season with a goal and an assist in City’s 3-1 win at Wolves on Monday, to take up where he left off last term.
Despite that impressive start, the 29-year-old Belgium international believes it will be hard for him to emulate last season’s phenomenal statistics.
“To be honest I don’t know,” said De Bruyne. “It’s hard. I would prefer to have had five goals and five assists and go away with the title.
“These days a lot is about statistics, but I try to do my best for the team.
“If you have good numbers, it helps the team.
“But even if I play badly, I have to try and contribute one way or another and that’s what I try to do.”
City lost the title to Liverpool by 18 points last season, with De Bruyne having acknowledged the need to start with a win, with little margin for error in the title race, even at such an early stage.
“I think we played really well,” said De Bruyne. “With just two weeks training, it was always going to be hard.
“But we kept it tight and I think we did really well and we know you have to start well.
“If the title pace is the same as the last few years, it’ll be hard. We want to fight with Liverpool. That’s what sport is all about.
“Wolves have been a bogey team for us, so to come here and do this performance is good – and we were missing some players.
City’s win was their first game since losing playmaker David Silva, who left in the summer after 10 glittering years with the Blues.
Although De Bruyne admitted City will miss Silva’s influence, he said Pep Guardiola’s side have enough quality to minimise his loss.
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“Whoever plays in place of David will do their thing,” said De Bruyne.
“David is the master of tight spaces, but in Phil [Foden], Bernardo [Silva], Riyad [Mahrez] and Raheem [Sterling], we have players who can do the job. But obviously he’s a big miss.
“We have so many attacking players, I can slot them in and they can do the rest depending on the formation of our opponents.”
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