Manchester City began their English Premier League campaign with a big win over Arsenal in an away game.
The victory was expected as the defending champions are still heavily considered as title favourites and the core of the championship squad remains with a few new additions.
In the middle of that enormous amount of talent is Kevin De Bruyne who continues to improve as he gets older. Last year, the Belgian had eight goals and 16 assists to help City with winning the Premier League title.
His performances spilled over to the FIFA World Cup where he helped Belgium finish third in the tough competition.
Many believed that De Bruyne’s talents will, again, play a big part in City’s march towards another title.
Unfortunately, injuries are unavoidable and reports began to circulate that De Bruyne picked up a serious knee injury in training that could sideline him for multiple months.
— Manchester City News (@ManCityMEN) August 16, 2018
That’s a big blow to City especially when much of the offence begins from the Belgian superstar.
However, all is not lost and with a team as deep in talent as Manchester City, there are players who should be ready to step up and take the challenge.
Here are a few who are expected to shine in the absence of De Bruyne.
Easily the first name to come to mind is new-boy Riyad Mahrez as he came to Manchester City from Leicester City in a massive £60 million move during the summer.
There were undoubtedly some questions in his arrival, as City were already flooded with talent especially in the attacking third of the pitch so many thought that Mahrez would be unused for the most part and his talent could be wasted on the bench.
De Bruyne’s absence may come as a blessing for Mahrez as he is likely to take a spot in the attacking role for the team. He has proven that he knows how to play in big games and delivers under the spotlight, so expect him to thrive with the pressure.
While this is certainly not a call for David Silva to finally show what he can do on the pitch, De Bruyne’s absence might be perfect for the Spaniard to find his footing back with the team after missing most of last year to attend to personal matters.
Silva has been and continues to be one of the best players in City, and the entire Premier League. He has the pedigree, the talents and the football IQ to be considered an elite player and he has continually shown it to be true.
With De Bruyne out, Silva is likely to see regular football again and he is very likely to make the most out of it. City might be getting a rejuvenated player with them and may completely forget that one of their best players is out with an injury.
As for finding the closest like-for-like player to replace De Bruyne on the pitch, it could be former AS Monaco star Bernardo Silva.
Just like David Silva, Bernardo was barely present in City’s starting XI as he only featured in 15 Premier League games as a starter – he made 20 appearances as a substitute.
He may have dropped down the pecking order due to the excellent play of his teammates which is not Bernardo’s fault, but the absence of De Bruyne immediately injects him in the possible replacement as he has a very similar style with the Belgian. His speed, crafty play and keen eye for key passes makes him a very comfortable replacement and it may finally be the chance he needs to show what he’s made of.
Last but certainly not the least is a player who is already a key piece in Manchester City’s squad, Raheem Sterling.
Only 23 years old, the Englishman had an incredible season last year, scoring 18 goals and providing 11 assists along the way, both his career bests.
However, if there is one thing that everyone needed to be critical with Sterling is in his finishing as many were left frustrated in a number of instances where he should have gotten a goal. His tally of 18 could very well have doubled if he was more clinical with slotting goals in.
Kevin de Bruyne arrived at Manchester City’s film premiere in crutches 🤕 pic.twitter.com/494P5uvT1H
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 16, 2018
With De Bruyne out, he will have more chances as the ball as he would have more freedom to move forward to attempt to score, so Sterling should find a way to elevate his game even more.