Kevin De Bruyne says the togetherness in the Manchester City squad is key to their continued success – and the major reason he is committed long-term to the club.
The English champions get their 2022/23 season under way on Saturday with the Community Shield against Liverpool before beginning the defence of their Premier League title next week away to West Ham United.
City are early favourites to secure a fifth top-flight crown in six years after a summer in which they have signed star striker Erling Haaland and midfielder Kalvin Phillips. Julian Alvarez, the highly promising young forward, has joined the squad following his loan at River Plate.
De Bruyne, though, remains one of the team’s standouts, and concluded last season by saying he was happy to remain at the club until his contract finishes in three years.
The Belgian international, 31, joined City in 2015 and has gone on to prove a bedrock in their dominance of English football.
On Thursday, manager Pep Guardiola said he believed De Bruyne to be the best central midfielder in the world.
De Bruyne, meanwhile, feels he is in the perfect environment to continue to improve – and that can only spell good news for City.
“This is where I want to be, this is my team,” De Bruyne told The National. “People will talk about individual performances and individual awards, but that doesn’t bring success.
“What brings success is the team and the players around you who push you to be better. There’s no better place for me than City. I’ve been here for seven years and together we’ve had so much success.
“I believe that together we can achieve even more, and I hope to continue that in the future with this club.”
Manchester City season ratings 2021/22
Of course, aside from sustained domestic success, City will have sights sets this campaign on finally capturing the Uefa Champions League trophy. The club have come agonisingly close before, losing the 2020/21 final to Chelsea by a single goal.
Last season, City were knocked out of Europe’s premier club competition in the semi-finals by eventual winners Real Madrid.
To their credit, Guardiola’s side rebounded from the disappointment by winning three of their remaining four Premier League matches – the other was a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at West Ham - to seal the title in thrilling fashion on the final day.
“Of course, to win a title having come so close in another competition is special for us, but winning every Premier League title has been special,” De Bruyne said. “We had to work hard as a group to come back from that result in Madrid.
“We knew what we had to do, we knew we had to win our games and we managed to do that. Even against West Ham when we didn’t win, we came back from two goals down to get a result that helped carry us into the final day and I think that says a lot about our character.
“Of course, our aim is to keep improving, to challenge for the Champions League as well, and hopefully anyone who comes in this summer will push us closer to that.”