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Guardiola lauds humble, adaptable Manchester City star De Bruyne

Pep Guardiola has hailed Kevin De Bruyne's selfless contribution to Manchester City's season.

Belgium international De Bruyne set up goals for Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero in Saturday's 3-0 Premier League win at Southampton, taking his assist tally to 13 in the top flight

De Bruyne played on the right-hand side of City's attack at St Mary's but has spent much of the season as one of two advanced central midfielders alongside David Silva.

The 25-year-old has also played in deeper midfield positions, including on the left of a diamond, and was City's most advanced attacker when Guardiola opted to pack central areas for the Champions League trip to Barcelona.

The manager reported none of this has drawn any complaint from the club's record signing, whose goal tally has suffered in comparison to his debut season in England

De Bruyne has five in all competitions ahead of this weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley, as opposed to 16 in 2015-16, but Guardiola believes any drop-off from the former Wolfsburg star is as a result of him being overused.

"You cannot do that if you are not a good guy, you cannot do that if you are not humble, you cannot do that if you think just of yourself and not the team," he said of De Bruyne's willingness to be versatile. 

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"I have spoken many times with him about his favourite position. He said: 'It doesn't matter, I want to play. I adapt.'

"With the quality of this player, how he runs, how he fights… of course he has played a lot of minutes and he was a little bit down recently in terms of missing a lot of easy balls, but that is because he has a lot of minutes in his legs.

"That's where we have missed [Ilkay] Gundogan a lot and it is my mistake not to give more minutes to Fabian Delph, for example.

"Of course, he is an important player for us. In the last metres he is a guy who creates more. We cannot forget he made seven or eight posts. We had 18 posts this season, seven or eight from Kevin De Bruyne. We are a little bit unlucky.

"But he gives us a lot. He is a fantastic player."

By contrast, De Bruyne's countryman Vincent Kompany has again spent much of the season on the sidelines through injury.

But City's captain marked his fourth Premier League start this term with the opening goal and an exuberant celebration, while he was also the kind of reassuring presence at centre-back Guardiola has largely lacked during his time in charge. 

"I would have been done and dusted if I needed time to adapt," Kompany told reporters when asked about his capacity to hit the ground running after a lay-off. 

"I have been lucky I can make use of a tremendous amount of experience.

"Where I am at physically does not matter. I know what I have to do and, as long as I can organise the people around, I can always get a performance."