City had hoped he would be back in December but the Belgium international admitted at
the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that he is probably out until after the new year, meaning Guardiola will go to the Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia without the 32-year-old.
“If he said January, it will be January,” Guardiola said. “I would have loved to have him all this season but now he has a tough injury and surgery and he has to recover well. He said the end of December or happy new year, so it will be a happy new year for everyone.”
De Bruyne had played with a hamstring problem for the final two months of last season before going off hurt in the Champions League final.
Guardiola does not feel that De Bruyne needed a rest. “I don’t think so,” he added. “I think he would have preferred to be with us, but football is a lot of years already, Kevin is not 21 anymore, time runs and unfortunately he had this injury. He has to recover and make a step back again. Recover well, prepare well and I’m not suspecting after one week that he will be perfect, but he needs time. From the beginning or on the bench, he always is a good weapon for us. I am not going to discover the quality from Kevin.”
Without De Bruyne, City host RB Leipzig on Tuesday with a point required to ensure they top their group. They are likely to again be without Jack Grealish, Mateo Kovacic and Matheus Nunes. “I’m not optimistic about some people coming back, but we will see,” added Guardiola.
But John Stones could be involved as a substitute. “Maybe a few minutes; he’s really, really close to coming back,” added Guardiola.
Guardiola, who signed a contract extension during the World Cup, will soon enter the last 18 months of his deal and was non-committal if he will extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium.
“I’m not going to answer,” he said. “I have a lot of energy. One year and a half is a lot of time in football. I arrived here with long hair and look what happened. I would have loved the team that won 100 points to stay eternally.”
Michael Johnson is your soccer guru, providing extensive coverage of soccer. With a global perspective, he delivers match reports, player interviews, and insights into the beautiful game, ensuring readers stay connected to the world of soccer.