Kevin De Bruyne shows why he remains a key Manchester City player ahead of the arrival of Erling Haaland

WOLVERHAMPTON, England – Erling Haaland has not even officially signed yet, but Kevin De Bruyne he wasted no time reminding everyone that he was still the main man of Manchester City.

Just over 24 hours after the club announced it had reached an agreement with Borussia Dortmund to activate a clause to release the Norwegian striker of 60 million euros, De Bruyne scored four times in an hour at Molineux. City’s 5-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Wednesday keeps Liverpool at arm’s length in the title race and means Pep Guardiola’s side only need four points from their last two games to be secure in the trophy.

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They travel to West Ham United this weekend as Liverpool play Chelsea in the FA Cup final, and by the time Jurgen Klopp’s side play in the Premier League again, they could be six points behind with an inferior goal difference. Guardiola won’t admit it, but it’s time to put the champagne on the ice after De Bruyne’s sparkling performance.

“What do I say?” said Guardiola when asked about De Bruyne’s performance. “I am very pleased with him, he scored four goals in the decisive part of the league. I am satisfied with the game and the result and the goals.

“We could have scored a lot, a lot more. It was a brilliant performance of all the players. All of them. An important victory. We need four more points to be champions and we will try to reach the top three on Sunday.

“It was important to get to the last two games with that in hand. We still have work to do, Liverpool will do six points, 100%, so we have to do our four.”

Haaland made everyone talk about how the City could become good in the future, but the present is not bad either. Central to this is De Bruyne, who dismantled the Wolves in an amazing display that caused Klopp and his Liverpool players to turn off their TVs before half an hour had passed. His first was a sharp blow with his left foot slipping Jose Sa. and in the far corner. His other hit the roof of the net after following his own dog which almost created an opportunity for Raheem Sterling.

It was his third of the best in a row, with him squeezing between two Wolves defenders 25 yards from goal before he jumped forward and shot with his left foot into the bottom corner before fourth from close range in the second half. His first three goals were scored within 24 minutes of hitting, making him the third fastest hat trick since the start of the match after Sadio Mane 2015 and Dwight Yorke 2011.

After completing his hat trick, De Bruyne – who also hit the post – rushed to City fans in the corner and repeated Haaland’s celebration of the goal with meditation.

The upcoming arrival of the 21-year-old could worry several City strikers for their place, but the Belgian midfielder will not be one of them. He now has 19 goals in all competitions, his best comeback in a single season. He is expected to score a lot of goals for Haaland next season, but this season he found his football boots at the right time.

Since the beginning of March, he has found a net 11 times to help City get closer to a fourth title in five years. Haaland will arrive at the Etihad Stadium in the summer, wanting to fulfill his undoubted promise and become one of the best players in the world. De Bruyne, however, is already there.

I am disappointed with him because he missed the fifth goal and hit the post, Guardiola said jokingly. “The second part of the league was imperfect.

“He is so generous that he has a sense of assist, but this season he also has a sense of scoring goals. He has scored decisive goals, against Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid.

“We’ve talked over the years, you have to get to the top five, be close to the top five and score. This is a year where he’s worked better and better. I have a feeling he’s starting to enjoy scoring goals now.”

Since a heartbreaking defeat in the Champions League against Real Madrid, City have responded with two wins from two, 10 scored and one goals conceded.

For Guardiola, the only drawback is watching his back problems get worse after that Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho both were ruled out in the second half. Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias and John Stones have already been ruled out for the last two games against West Ham, and Aston Villa and City ended the game at Molineux with Rodri and half fit Nathan Ake at center back.

Guardiola then said that it would be “difficult” for Laporte or Fernandinho to be ready for the match against West Ham on Sunday, but although City may be limping towards the goal, another Premier League title is in sight.


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