Kevin De Bruyne has stated that he was selected second in the Manchester City captaincy group, trailing Kyle Walker.
Everything now makes clear. Why in August, both Pep Guardiola and Kyle Walker were so evasive about who the genuine captain of Manchester City was.
After the vote in August, Guardiola acknowledged the five members of the leadership group but downplayed the significance of the order. We can determine through the process of elimination that Walker and Kevin De Bruyne rounded out the top two, with Bernardo Silva coming in fifth, Ruben Dias in fourth, and Rodri in third.
Walker reiterated Guardiola’s statement that the order was meaningless and acknowledged he will wear the armband for the time being while sidestepping the topic of who will be the future club captain. Now that De Bruyne has returned to the team for the first time since the poll, he can declare that Walker won the most votes and is the new captain of City.
When De Bruyne was out of the lineup from August to December, City refrained from revealing which player, Walker or De Bruyne, would be the new captain of the team. There were a few hints, but most people assumed that the evasive responses meant De Bruyne would make a comeback from his injury and replace Ilkay Gundogan as City’s captain, having previously served as vice captain behind Fernandinho.
When De Bruyne returned to action against Huddersfield, he did indeed steal Dias’ armband, but the supporters were left in the dark because Walker was not on the pitch. De Bruyne eventually revealed the results of the voting when he paused to talk with media following the FA Cup victory.
Having experienced every phase of City’s development, De Bruyne is beloved by both players and supporters alike. He seemed like a natural successor to Gundogan. He frequently wore the armband when Fernandinho or Gundogan wasn’t playing, and it’s practically a given that he will start City’s most important games when they most need their leaders. He frequently sets the bar high with his performances.
But he will now serve as Walker’s backup after the treble-winning season finished and he was passed over for the pivotal games before agreeing to a new contract. Walker considered leaving in the summer to join Bayern Munich.
“It’s an honour,” Walker declared when hoisting the UEFA Super Cup in his capacity as interim captain. “And to have the armbands of some of the players who have previously worn them, and naturally, to go captain the team for the first time and win a Super Cup following a season in which the team won a treble. I was really pleased with myself.
“But once more, the boys will cast their votes and choose their captain for the remainder of the season.” And I hope that it’s me, but we’ll see. I wish everyone the best of luck.
Walker has retaliated, strengthening both his leadership role and his performances. Regardless of his voting position, De Bruyne will play the same and hold teammates to the greatest standards. That’s exactly what De Bruyne stated in August, when he spoke following the Community Shield.
I understand it if I do. It won’t affect anything I do for the club, he remarked in his normally carefree tone. I’ve been a member of the club for nine years, so I know everyone inside and out and can do anything they want of me. I don’t worry too much. I make the same effort as always. If I’m chosen, it will be an honour; if not, it makes no difference.”
The regard that De Bruyne will receive upon his return will also remain unchanged. To give him the armband, Dias ran twenty yards. Jack Grealish wrote, “Sir, welcome back.” Regarding his return to the fold, Guardiola remarked, “I’m fairly sure Kevin sensed how many people loved him and how others loved him too. This respect for one another will endure forever.” It’s obvious that having De Bruyne back will improve the team, raise expectations, and include another leader in the starting lineup.
“There will be moments I want to play every game but I know in the back of my mind I need to take care of myself,” he remarked following the game against Huddersfield. “I don’t plan on playing too many games, and since Newcastle is a crucial game the next week, I’ll probably be sitting on the bench again. We’ll see how it goes because there are two more weeks until a game, so that creates a different momentum, but if they need me or want to give me minutes, that will be the case.”
For De Bruyne, avoiding another loss and doing as Guardiola requests are his top priorities. The captain’s pre-match meeting, collecting fines, or performing any other administrative duties are not necessary. He can just carry on as the leader he always has.
Walker will keep wearing the armband, which should help him secure a spot in the starting lineup. It won’t matter who lifts the trophies if the dynamic helps City win another round of titles at the conclusion of the season.