Manchester City are set to be without Kevin De Bruyne for three months but the Belgium midfielder does not require surgery on a lateral knee ligament injury.
De Bruyne was named City’s Player of the Season as he starred in their record-breaking run to the Premier League title last term but his injury lands a significant early blow against Pep Guardiola’s bid for back-to-back titles in England’s top flight.
The 27-year-old sustained the setback during a training session on Wednesday and, following a visit to specialist Dr Ramon Cugat in Barcelona on Thursday, City have confirmed his diagnosis.
“Manchester City can confirm Kevin De Bruyne has suffered a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) lesion in his right knee,” a club statement read, with De Bruyne having suffered a similar injury against Everton during the 2016 EFL Cup semi-final.
“No surgery is required and the midfielder is expected to be out for around three months.”
The timescale placed on De Bruyne’s recovery means he will miss City’s trip to Liverpool on October 7, with Jurgen Klopp’s side the only team to beat them away from home in the Premier League last term and widely tipped to mount a title challenge this time around.
A scheduled trip to Tottenham later in the month would also appear to come too soon, while the November 11 derby at the Etihad Stadium against Manchester United represents a possible target for a high-profile return.
De Bruyne has proved a pivotal figure at City since his then club-record switch from Wolfsburg, with his influence only growing during Guardiola’s tenure.
Since his debut in September 2015, he has supplied 43 assists in 91 Premier League stars, scoring 21 goals.
City launched their title defence with a 2-0 win at Arsenal last weekend on the back of beating Chelsea by the same scoreline in the Community Shield. Guardiola’s men host Huddersfield Town at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.