Pep Guardiola addressed the media at the City Football Academy on Friday afternoon leading into the weekend clash against Mark Hughes’ Southampton.
Speaking about De Bruyne and any effect his absence might have on the derby, Pep was relaxed.
“It’s not about the derby,” said Pep. “The derby is three points like Southampton is three points, it’s not a final, it’s another game.
“Kevin was out two-and-a-half months and again he is out and we are sad for him. Yesterday he came back and [showed] many, many things.”
Could De Bruyne’s absence help City later in the season if he’s fresh? Pep thinks the long rest could help him.
“Yesterday De Bruyne was so sad, but he can spend this time with his new boy and his family. But after the international break he will be back stronger to help us achieve our targets.”
Conspicuous by his absence yesterday was Nicolas Otamendi with the boss confirming he has a ‘little problem’ and is a doubt for the weekend. Gundogan is also not quite there.
“Gundogan is training with the team but he is still not 100%. Otamendi still has a little problem. He’s not training but he is strong and maybe tomorrow he’ll tell me he’s ready.”
The future of Brahim Diaz, who scored twice against Fulham last night, is up in the air and Guardiola commented on the young Spaniard.
“We want him. I’m not involved in the contract but I spoke with Txiki. The fact is we want him. We want to have them [young players] but sometimes, like Jadon Sancho, they want to leave and what can we do?”
Pep spoke very highly of Aymeric Laporte when asked about the former Bilbao man’s impact since arriving in January.
“Laporte is strong and physical, he has a good personality and the arrogance to play at a high level. He’s fresh for us because he has not been selected for the national team. But he is a young player and we are so satisfied at his level so far.”
Finally, a word from Pep about this weekend’s opposition Southampton.
“I am impressed with the quality Southampton have in the middle and at the front. They have huge talent and are so deep and so physical. It is so complicated to beat them. We must be sharp and move well and be clever. It will be a tough game.”