Pep Guardiola thinks Kevin De Bruyne can achieve whatever he wants at Manchester City after committing his long-term future to the Premier League leaders.
De Bruyne penned a two-year extension this week until June 2025 that will take him up to a decade with the club if he sees out the terms.
Since signing for City from Wolfsburg in 2015, the Belgium playmaker has scored 41 goals and supplied 76 assists in 176 Premier League matches.
In terms of creativity, that puts him far above his peers, with ex-Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen (51) the only other player to have laid on more than 50 goals during the same period, with former and current team-mates David Silva (44) and Riyad Mahrez (41) up next.
De Bruyne’s 535 chances created since his goalscoring City debut against West Ham in September 2015 displays an even bigger gulf, with Eriksen (413) and Mesut Ozil (400) the only other men to reach 400.
Such returns lead Guardiola to believe anything is possible for a 29-year-old who will hope to inspire City to elusive Champions League glory this term, having opened the scoring in Tuesday’s 2-1 quarter-final first leg win over Borussia Dortmund.
“We will see from Kevin what he wants to be. His type of player, what he wants will be possible. It depends on him,” Guardiola said ahead of Saturday’s Premier League home game versus Leeds United.
“I never involved in signing contracts for the players. That belongs to Txiki [Begiristain, City’s director of football] and the club, but my personal opinion is I’m more than delighted for the time we’ve spent together in the past and hopefully, in these two months we still have ahead, we can do a good step forward and in the future.
“If the club and Kevin are satisfied, then if a third person is satisfied, it’s me. Congratulations to Kevin, his family and Manchester City.”
Such longevity will give De Bruyne the chance to enshrine his place alongside modern City greats such as Silva, former captain Vincent Kompany and outgoing club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero.
Guardiola concedes players spending such a long time with one team is unusual in the modern era, having himself committed to the longest tenure of his coaching career.
“Yes, it’s not normal but some players are not normal,” he said. “We are delighted with these players.
“Hopefully they can join more players in this position. I can talk for myself. I’m here five years and I will be two more, in principle, if the situation is going well.
“The club helps us and I’m glad important players like Kevin, who has all the world in his hands and all the clubs would be delighted to have him, decide to stay with us. I think it’s a big compliment for all Manchester City.”
As usual before facing his old mentor, there were big compliments from Guardiola for Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa, who said the ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach imbues his teams with a “magical quality” this week.
“I’m overwhelmed, I feel weird. He’s a huge competitor,” Guardiola said of the praise.
“He’s the most honest person, when I was able to speak with him, I’m pretty sure what he says is what he believes. He doesn’t say anything for the media for himself. That’s why I’m overwhelmed, everyone knows the admiration and respect – the way he helped me in my beginnings.
“Always he’ll be there in my heart and that’s why I am always ‘wow’. I always feel I don’t deserve it.”