Man City boss Pep Guardiola sends Kevin De Bruyne warning to title rivals Liverpool

Manchester City will be stronger with De Bruyne in their starting 11, warned Guardiola.

City won the Premier League title last season despite De Bruyne being absent through injury for most of the campaign.

The Belgian started for City in just 11 games in the league last year, and came off the bench a further eight times.

However the Citizens still racked up 98 points to beat Liverpool to the title and retain their top-flight crown.

But City boss Pep Guardiola is hoping that his star playmaker will be back to his brilliant best after having a summer break, without the distraction of a World Cup or European Championship.

“He’s been top,” said Guardiola, speaking about De Bruyne.

“Unfortunately last season we missed him a lot. We did incredibly well without him but we are stronger with him.

“Last season he didn’t have holiday but he has had more time to rest and he came back like he did two seasons ago. Hopefully he can keep his level.

“He’s a guy who likes to play football. He’s a huge competitor. What we want now is to be calm and not get injuries.”

Guardiola’s comments came after City’s 0-0 draw with Wolves in the Premier League Asia Trophy.

The Blues ultimately lost the match on penalties, after beating West Ham 4-1 to reach the final.

De Bruyne played the entirety of the first half while even wearing the captain’s armband, before being replaced by Ilkay Gundogan at half-time.

The Belgian is expecting an easier season on a personal level, after having a number of breaks through injury over the past 12 months.

“I think it’s going to be easier for me,” De Bruyne said earlier this week.

“I came back and got injured after four days so my season was very disrupted.

“When I played I was happy with myself but I couldn’t reach the level that I reached before because I played 70 games without interruption. To have to stop five times is more difficult.

“I’m just preparing myself easily and I know we’ve got four weeks until the first league game.”