Kevin De Bruyne’s disdain for ‘unimportant’ UEFA Nations League fixtures has signalled a shift in the Belgian’s mentality while at the peak of his Manchester City career.

The Belgian maestro struggled with a whole host of injury issues at the start of the season. In City’s first-ever Champions League final, at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, De Bruyne left the field in tears after a collision with Chelsea’s Antonio Rüdiger – fracturing his eye socket and breaking his nose.

He only just managed to recover from that horror injury to participate in the European Championship but was hit with another major blow when he damaged his ankle ligaments at said tournament. Despite suffering that tear in the last-16, De Bruyne took painkilling injections to play in Belgium’s quarter-final loss to Italy – something he has since said he regrets.

However, after a slow start to the subsequent season, the 30-year-old was back to his thrilling best in no time and picked up his second Premier League Player of the Season award. Directly after City’s fourth league triumph in five seasons, De Bruyne admitted this particular title was the most satisfying on a personal note after such a tough beginning.

The midfielder may have been hoping to spend this summer on the beach, enjoying some much-needed time off with the family – but UEFA’s new competition has put those plans on hold.

De Bruyne’s national side have a staggering four games in the space of 11 days in the Nations League. Two games in Brussels are followed by trips to Wales and Poland – something the midfielder is not looking forward to.

“For me, the Nations League is not important,” said the 30-year-old. “We have to play these games, but it feels like a campaign of friendly games. Just glorified friendlies after a long and tough season. I’m not looking forward to it.”

His comments are maybe a surprise to most, but for City supporters, it’s a promising shift in mentality that was possibly triggered by his Euro 2020 struggles. All week, De Bruyne has told countless media organisations that he is ‘proud’ of how he overcame mental and physical barriers to win the Premier League, but it’s something he will not want to go through again.

He has missed some football with the aforementioned issues, but playing 45 games across all competitions is still such a hectic season for a player at his absolute peak. De Bruyne must now command respect whenever he steps inside a dressing room, so it will be interesting to see how much football the midfielder actually plays across the four games.

It’s clear that De Bruyne knows what he did last summer can have a long-lasting impact and his shift in mentality is certainly encouraging for City and Pep Guardiola.

Sign up to our City newsletter so you never miss an update from the Etihad Stadium this season.

Source link