Belfast Telegraph

De Bruyne can only be the world's best if he helps Manchester City win titles, says Pep Guardiola

By Josh Bunting and Gareth Hanna

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne can only challenge for the Ballon D'Or if he helps his club land some silverware.

That's according to his manager Pep Guardiola ahead of Tuesday's Champions League tie against Napoli. There's little doubting the European trophy is the one City would like to win most this season, having never got their hands on it before.

De Bruyne has netted two goals this season and has earned rave reviews. But could he match Guardiola's old star player at Barcelona - one Lionel Messi?

“If De Bruyne wants to be the best he needs to wins titles and we are here to help him to achieve that," said Guardiola. "The best is just one, but he is of course one of the best."

Helping the midfielder to become the world's premier player, Guardiola says, would be quite an achievement for his managerial skills.

"It would be a dream for me," he said. "I would love, not only for Kevin, but all the players I have had in the past to achieve the level of Messi. It would be a massive thing for my teams because we would win a lot of games.

"But I don't want to put pressure on Kevin's shoulders. Kevin is an outstanding, amazing player. He is a humble guy and all his team-mates love him.

"He wants to play every single game, he fights until the end but I don't help him by comparing him with Messi. Messi is apart. He is a guy who has scored 60 goals every season for eight or nine years."

Guardiola also reflected on the weekend's 7-2 victory over Stoke as a highlight of his time at the club, but stressed that the midweek match would provide a different test.

“Saturday was the best performance in terms of tempo but tomorrow is a new game and a different competition," he said.

“I have to change my style for the game against Napoli. They are a very good team - all Serie A teams are. They do many things and do them perfectly."

Guardiola also went on to praise Napoli's front three of Insigne, Callejon and Belgian international Dries Mertens. He said: “They are all very quick good players especially Jose Callejon, who makes the runs in behind your defence."

Sergio Aguero could feature for the first time in tomorrow’s clash after coming back from injury following a car accident in Amsterdam after training on Sunday.

Meanwhile, City winger Raheem Sterling has said that summer rumours linking him to Arsenal didn't phase him.

“I was never worried about leaving and I didn’t even think about it. I’m playing under a great manager and a great team," he said. “I’m learning and loving the game at the minute. There have been massive question marks against me and I am glad I’m proving people wrong."

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