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When Phil Foden netted a stunning long-range strike to complete his hat-trick in Manchester City’s 4-1 triumph over Aston Villa on Wednesday, it felt like a passing of the torch moment for the club.

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Kevin De Bruyne, who has been sidelined for a significant portion of the season due to injury, remained on the bench throughout the match against Villa. Watching from the sidelines, the 30-year-old witnessed his younger teammate’s exceptional performance, which propelled City’s title aspirations.

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While De Bruyne has showcased his competitive spirit in recent years, it’s unlikely that he took Foden’s heroics as a personal slight, reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s approach. De Bruyne acknowledged on Saturday that Foden’s performances keep him ‘on his toes’. However, judging by De Bruyne’s stellar display in City’s 4-2 victory against Crystal Palace, it’s evident that Foden’s brilliance may have spurred him to elevate his game even further.

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The Belgian midfielder was the standout performer on the pitch at Selhurst Park, demonstrating his class with a goal and an assist. Despite Palace taking an early lead, De Bruyne’s equalizer and subsequent contributions turned the tide in City’s favor, securing three crucial points for the team.

In a squad where youth is prevailing, De Bruyne’s experience and leadership were instrumental in guiding City to victory. With other starters like Rico Lewis and Oscar Bobb, both in their early twenties, De Bruyne’s presence provided stability amidst the youthful exuberance.

Following the match, manager Pep Guardiola lauded De Bruyne’s impact, emphasizing his role in securing the win with his goals and assists.

Looking ahead, City faces the challenge of addressing De Bruyne’s uncertain future. Reports suggest that he may receive a lucrative offer from the Saudi Pro League this summer, while his contract with City expires in 2025. While City has been decisive in offloading aging stars in the past, De Bruyne’s significance to the club transcends mere statistics. As one of City’s greatest players in the Premier League era, De Bruyne has earned the right to assert his demands in contract negotiations, given his immense contributions to the team.

Ultimately, De Bruyne’s enduring legacy at City warrants careful consideration from the club, highlighting his pivotal role and influence in shaping the team’s success.

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