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Would Man City actually be stronger with their best player on the bench?

Kevin De Bruyne would be missed by any side on the planet, right? Not City...

‘You just wait… take Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero out of this Man Ciy side and they’ll be found out. Mark my words.’

Ah, that old chestnut.

Anyone who has witnessed Man City pulverise their opposition on a weekly basis would have been struck one how many key players they have these days.


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Classic Pep knitwear

EPA
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Classic Pep knitwear

From Aymeric Laporte to Fernandinho, Bernardo Silva to Raheem Sterling — their ‘most important’ player shifts several times over the course of a match.

Last season, Kevin De Bruyne was City’s standout best player and many feared his injury troubles would leave a big creative hole in their midfield.

But that wasn’t the case.

21 assists in all competitions last season

Reuters
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21 assists in all competitions last season

The Belgian’s persistent knee injuries were meant to debilitate Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering side, denying them of the brains of their organisation, their conductor-in-chief.

But, in a bizarre way, have City actually looked better without him?

Bernardo Silva has been more just than an able deputy to De Bruyne and some believe he’s proving a smarter fit for Pep’s system.

Guardiola has been full of praise for the Portuguese midfielder all season, claiming him to be one of the best players in the league.

How many trophies will City win this season?

Getty - Contributor
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How many trophies will City win this season?

Bernardo doesn’t quite have the jaw-dropping range of passing that De Bruyne boasts but what he does bring is an effortless sense of control and composure.

Not to mention his tireless industry

Compare this season’s 0-0 draw at Anfield to the thrilling 4-3 defeat back in January.

City were exposed time and time again by Liverpool’s free-flowing attack, Fernandinho left too isolated.

This season though, with Bernardo starting and no De Bruyne in sight, the Reds were mostly toothless as City’s more organised midfield snuffed out any attacks.

At 24, Bernardo still has plenty of room in the tank to make even further developments too.

Masterful deputy

AFP or licensors
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Masterful deputy

Since De Bruyne’s return to the first team, Bernardo has been deployed as a winger.

This has left just one place for Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane to compete for with the Englishman generally getting the nod.

Many fans believe the team would be better off with Sterling from the right and Sane from the left.

This would put Bernardo, De Bruyne and David Silva in direct competition for two places — not to mention Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden.

Would you start Sane?

EPA
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Would you start Sane?

Would De Bruyne’s Hollywood passing and crossing be better employed as Plan B?

He too excelled as a winger earlier in his career — he was named Bundesliga Player of the Year in 2014/15 after an eye-catching campaign with Wolfsburg where he operated from the right from time to time.

It’s a nice problem to have of course, a host of world-class players competing for a limited number of places.

De Bruyne might be the finest individual in the Premier League, but are City better off with him on the bench?

It’s a scary thought…


NEXT: Is Liverpool’s greatest strength also their biggest weakness?