Latest Football News From Manchester: Pep Guardiola expects Kevin De Bruyne to take key role for Man City

At the beginning of each season the squad votes for five players who will form the leadership group for the campaign. While the City manager did have a say in the group previously, he does not anymore and is happy to leave it to the players and staff.

De Bruyne was vice-captain two years ago but tumbled down from second choice to fourth choice last summer while injured after Euro 2020 duty, with Ilkay Gundogan and Ruben Dias leapfrogging him; Kyle Walker completed the group of five, with Raheem Sterling falling out of the group of five.

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De Bruyne dragged City to the league title ahead of Liverpool with astonishing consistency in the second half of last season and has looked as sharp in his preparations for this campaign – including captaining the Blues in their two friendlies. Guardiola may not have a say in the vote next week but would be shocked if the Belgian was not in the thick of it.

“I'm pretty sure Kevin will have a key role in the team – as the player who has been here the longest and for the responsibility he takes on the pitch and in many cases off the pitch,” said Guardiola. “I don't pick. In the beginning I picked the fifth, now I don't pick – they pick. Its no question of favourites, what the team decide is perfect, what the staff decide I'm happy.

“They have to defend the team when they dont agree with the manager. I love the captains being decided by them, not me. It belongs to them, in the locker room. I never vote. The only person who doesn't vote is me. What they decide is perfect, not a problem.”