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EPL: Aguero nets four in Man City rout

12 February 2018

But if Guardiola's side can defy the odds and bring the famous Champions League trophy back to the Etihad, and if De Bruyne can maintain his form, he could very well be the next Ballon d'Or victor.

On three occasions, Lionel Messi lifted the golden trophy under Guardiola's stewardship of Barcelona.

And the Argentine isn't naive to the fact that De Bruyne has played a key role in his goals.

Numerous newspapers focused on one man in particular today - Kevin De Bruyne. "It's not one game, it's all the season - every three days - playing that way".

It will take a truly inspired year-long performance from any player to steal the Ballon d'Or from Messi or Ronaldo, who, combined, have won it every year since 2008.

He is a strong favorite to become England's player of the year for 2017-18 - only Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is a genuine rival for the prize - but the Ballon d'Or is on another level.

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City face Basel in the last-16 of the competition, and also have the final of the Carabao Cup to come against a rocking Arsenal side, who are facing another year out of the Europe's premier competition.

"We arrive good but we have to know that the Champions League is another competition, completely different", Guardiola said.

"Since making his debut for Werder Bremen on loan from Chelsea in the summer of 2012, De Bruyne has completed a total of 77 assists - more than any player in Europe's top five leagues, including Lionel Messi on 76". In one sense, it was a formality, an automatic reward for his 12th Manchester City hat-trick and the third time he scored at least four.

There was one caveat, and it relates to Tuesday's date in Basel.

When asked if the "one" title he was referring to was the Champions League, Guardiola said: "Of course". De Bruyne will be well on his way to the top should he spearhead an impressive Champions League run in the following months.

Such was his quality on Saturday that even Sergio Aguero, a scorer of four goals against Leicester, threatened to be overshadowed. They illustrate his versatility and Guardiola highlighted it by reeling off the positions De Bruyne can play: winger, attacking midfielder, holding midfielder.

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The man himself was typically relaxed about the prospect of being recognised as the greatest player on the planet.

But he pops up everywhere - on the wings, in support of the striker, on set pieces - and possibly has the best delivery ever seen in the Premier League. However, Aguero took centre stage with a finishing masterclass to take his tally in City's last seven home games to 14 goals as Guardiola's side moved 16 points clear.

City will face an almighty task to win the greatest club competition in the world though, with Barcelona and Bayern Munich looking as strong as ever, while you can not ever discount Real Madrid.

"I do everything to win titles with the team", the Belgian said. "If we are able to win the title it will be something special for us". It makes it easier for me; it makes it easier for them.

But the midfielder is not focused on individual honours.

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EPL: Aguero nets four in Man City rout