Kevin De Bruyne hit back at his critics and accepted he’s now an ‘old man’ in football.
The Man City star has not been a guaranteed starter for Pep Guardiola this season, but has still delivered 12 Premier League assists.
The Belgium international admitted he is held to a higher standard than some of his peers because of the level he’s reached before.
He is a two-time Premier League player of the season and also ended third in the Ballon d’Or in 2022.
“Obviously, people have a different standard [for me] to a lot of players. It’s just what it is,” he said.
“People expect me to score every game and assist every game. I think I’ve been playing quite well. Maybe there have been fewer assists but I don’t think I’ve been creating less.
“I don’t really look at these things. I feel fine. I think I’m playing alright – maybe not the best I’ve every played but it’s good.
“You know the stats – I’ve created the most in the league and have the most assists and I’ve not even played four or five games. For me, it is the same. I’ve been doing the same thing for eight years here and 15 years in professional football so I’m feeling fine.
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“I expect more from myself than you guys will ever do. You know what people are going to say outside but there’s no pressure. I play football because I like it, not because I have to, so it’s good.”
The 31-year-old is now a veteran of the game, but said there is no extra pressure on himself.
He added: ”I expect more from myself than you guys will ever do. You know what people are going to say outside but there’s no pressure. I play football because I like it, not because I have to, so it’s good.”
“I’m an old man in this game, I know how it is. I’m fine. Obviously you want to play as much as possible but if you don’t play you do the best for 10 minutes and that’s what I did and get the win for the team.
“I don’t have to do anything different. People know who I am after eight years, know what I do for the team, what I’m good at and what I’m not good at. I don’t want to do different things that I’m not good at on and off the pitch. Everyone has his role to play and that’s really important to maintain your role.”
Ahead of Man City’s crunch Champions League clash with RB Leipzig, with the tie poised at 1-1, Guardiola seemingly offered an explanation as to why the midfielder has been on the bench for three of their last seven Premier League games.
Guardiola said: “It’s been a difficult season, I would say, for all of us, me included, (because of) the World Cup and many things.
“I’m not going to discover Kevin. Kevin has an ability to do it. What I’d like – I spoke many times to him – is to go to the easy principles and do it well.
“He has an incredible ability to make an assist, to score goals and see passes like no-one else, but I always have belief they will increase and will get better when the simple things, like don’t lose the ball, the mobility, the incredible capacity to be active in the movement, to do it again better and better, the rest will come along.
“It’s like Erling (Haaland). I don’t want him to just score goals and the rest I don’t care. He will score and he will be involved in the game.
“With Kevin it’s the same. When the simple things are done perfectly and we are in the right moment, the actions to create incredible passes that he – only he – can find, it will be easier, it will be better.”
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