De Bruyne's Manchester City masterclass delights Guardiola
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hailed Kevin De Bruyne as a "complete player" after the Belgium international turned in a virtuoso display in the 5-0 thrashing of 10-man Liverpool.
City hit the front in the 24th minute when Sergio Aguero rounded Reds goalkeeper Simon Mignolet having latched on to De Bruyne's perfectly weighted throughball.
The complexion of the contest changed entirely after Sadio Mane was dismissed for striking City keeper Ederson in the head with a high boot and De Bruyne instantly made the hosts' numerical advantage count during a prolonged period of stoppage time, picking out Gabriel Jesus with a pinpoint cross.
Jesus doubled his tally in the second period and substitute Leroy Sane completed the rout with a brace but it was De Bruyne who drew superlatives from his boss afterwards.
"He has this quality, this commitment without the ball, he's so intelligent. You say one instruction and he understands immediately," Guardiola told a post-match news conference.
"He's a guy who produces a huge [amount] of passes and assists. Last season he shot 15 or 16 times against the post. We were unlucky, hopefully this year [De Bruyne's shooting] can help us."
Guardiola is not short of playmaking options, having deployed David Silva in tandem with De Bruyne in every game so far this term, while close-season arrival Bernardo Silva was an unused substitute against Liverpool.
Nevertheless, he feels the former Chelsea and Wolfsburg player is on a different level when it comes to spying gaps in an opposition defence.
"He's quick, always he sees the spaces in the middle [and] outside more than anyone else," Guardiola said. "He's good with the ball at his feet, he's good running in the space, attacking the space.
"A complete, complete player. He loves to be here with us, so we’re a lucky team, a lucky club to have Kevin with us.
"This season he is in a good mood – maybe because he is a father now, I don't know - he's always optimistic, it's good. He's one of our captains.
"I'm so happy for his performance, not just for today but the other days in this period."
City open their Champions League campaign at Feyenoord on Tuesday before returning to Premier League action at Watford next weekend.