De Bruyne will be in contention for Ballon d’Or if City go further in Champions League – Pep

Pep Guardiola believes Kevin De Bruyne will be in Ballon d’Or contention if Manchester City go deep into this season’s Champions League.

De Bruyne shined by laying on three assists as Sergio Aguero’s four-goal haul saw the Premier League leaders thrash Leicester City 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Manchester United’s tepid 1-0 defeat at Newcastle United on Sunday left City 16 points to the good at the summit, with a third top-flight title in seven seasons now appearing to be a formality.

Having coached Lionel Messi as the Barcelona superstar and Cristiano Ronaldo began their domination of the Ballon d’Or a decade ago, Guardiola was unequivocal when asked whether his 26-year-old midfielder was at a level to be considered for the prestigious individual prize.

“No doubt,” he replied. “It’s not one game, it’s all the season – every three days – playing that way.

“But he knows and everybody knows, to be there you have to win titles and titles and titles. Especially one.

“The way he plays, it is difficult to find one [like De Bruyne] in Europe.

“You have to be there [in the Champions League] to win and if you are not there in the latter stages you will not be nominated.”

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