Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne feels a complete break from football over the summer has given him the perfect lift for the new campaign.
The Belgium international played only a bit-part in City’s outstanding treble-winning 2018-19 season due to a series of injuries.
It now seems those problems could be behind the 28-year-old after his stand-out performances on City’s pre-season tour of Asia over the past fortnight.
Prior to the trip De Bruyne enjoyed a couple of holidays with his family, time away he felt was much needed after his previous two seasons ran into each other because of the 2018 World Cup.
De Bruyne said: “I did nothing for three weeks. I just wanted to be away.
“I run a lot with the kids anyway, so I burn a lot of energy, but I just wanted to be away from football. I had been playing for two years straight. I just wanted to enjoy myself a little bit.
“I did some trips with family and friends.
- Man City 4-1 West Ham
- Man City 0-0 Wolves
- Man City 6-1 Kitchee
- Man City 3-1 Yokohama
“Physically you can be OK but I think it is more mentally. It is tough to go two years straight for everybody and not have a proper break. That is what happened the last two years.
“Now I felt for myself that is was necessary to just slow it down a little bit and go again in pre-season. I knew I would have enough time now to prepare myself for the season, so that’s what I decided to do.”
Despite his reduced role last season – most notably starting only 11 Premier League games – De Bruyne insists he did not feel left out of the team’s successes.
Kevin De Bruyne, right, started only 11 Premier League games last season (Shuji Kajiyama/AP)
He said: “I don’t have that feeling. I played half of the games, so I was there. Obviously I wanted to play more but I am very happy.
“If I am not there or am there, I am on the team to win. That is why I play for this team but in the end I hope to get less injuries and play a little bit more, obviously.”
City have now returned home having concluded their tour with victory over sister club Yokohama F Marinos on Saturday, a game in which De Bruyne scored and set up another.
They begin their season against Liverpool in the Community Shield next Sunday.
De Bruyne knows expectations on City will be high this term having collected five major trophies in the past two years.
He said: “We don’t need to beat the last two seasons – maybe we can win this season with 85 points.
“It is not about improving, it is about staying consistent, trying to be there every game, trying to win every game. It is not always about doing better, because how can you do better sometimes?
“To win every year what we won the last two years is going to be pretty difficult but it is good to be there. We are always competing in every trophy. We take it seriously.”
– Press Association
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