Five De Bruyne replacements Man City could target with Saudi Arabia calling

Harry De Cosemo
Man City transfer
Kevin De Bruyne and Jamal Musiala with Manchester City's badge.

With every passing day, it feels as though Kevin De Bruyne is getting closer to leaving Manchester City for Saudi Arabia. His recent comments seemingly endorsing the idea will ramp up the speculation further, and there may come a point – if it hasn’t been reached already – where City begin to plan for a future without their brilliant Belgian, who is now 32 years of age.

His long injury lay-off at the start of the season gave a glimpse of the Phil Foden-shaped world that may take shape, but Pep Guardiola will likely want to dip into the transfer market too.

With that in mind, here are five potential replacements for De Bruyne in order of likelihood.

Jamal Musiala to Man City?

Most Manchester City fans would probably fancy Musiala as the perfect heir to De Bruyne’s throne. The Germany international was developed in England at Chelsea, but has thrived at Bayern Munich and developed into one of the very best playmakers in the world.

His close control and ability to carry the ball are the most notable arrows in his quiver. The 21-year-old is also very versatile, a favoured trait for Guardiola who likes attacks to operate fluidly. Bayern will do everything they can to keep their crown jewel and he would likely cost more than £100m even with just two years to run on his contract. But they may face difficulty convincing Musiala of their ambitions after losing the Bundesliga title for the first time in 11 years.

Back in April, The Guardian reported Musiala was City’s top target, and the report points out the impact of Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan’s departures are still being felt. Musiala might just be the closest thing to replacing both and De Bruyne in one go, but luring him from Munich will still take a gargantuan effort.

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Xavi Simons to Man City?

Simons’ inclusion is a bit of a wildcard; the 21-year-old Dutchman is one of Europe’s most exciting attacking talents and has shown that over recent seasons with PSV Eindhoven and RB Leipzig while on loan from Paris Saint-Germain. Few players can replicate his enthusiasm on the pitch, the way he takes responsibility in games and makes them his own. Guardiola could do so much with such talent.

His career also began at Barcelona before he was snared by PSG, and even when he was as young as 13, he was creating the buzz of a future world beater. Is he likely to be chosen to fill De Bruyne’s boots? Probably not. Is he deserving of a chance at an elite club? Definitely. He scored 10 and registered 13 assists at Leipzig last season after 22 and nine the year before at PSV.

Next on his agenda needs to be proving himself at PSG; life after Kylian Mbappe could be shaped by him. But City could do far worse than take him if the opportunity arises.

Florian Wirtz to Man City?

Wirtz is coming off the season of a lifetime at Bayer Levekusen. He played a key role in Bayer Leverkusen’s first ever Bundesliga title triumph and close run to a near-perfect season. Only the Europa League final defeat to Atalanta, which was followed by a win over Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final, denied them history.

He scored 18 goals and registered 19 assists in all competitions and is sure to be among the most valuable of Leverkusen’s assets this summer too, especially if he has a successful home Euros with Germany. His positional fluidity, and in particular rotation with Alex Grimaldo down Leverkusen’s left last season, make him another ideal player for City in terms of profile.

Reports in Spain earlier this year said Wirtz, whose contract runs until 2027, has agreed to join Real Madrid and will cost more than £150m, but nothing is official and if City enter the race, it could be very interesting.

Dani Olmo to Man City?

Every year, RB Leipzig are one of those clubs who must brace themselves for interest in their star players. This year, with Dani Olmo, it could be a long summer. They must be thankful they’ve at least got Benjamin Sesko to commit for the foreseeable future.

Olmo is an archetypal Guardiola midfielder, which is no surprise considering he began at Barcelona’s La Masía youth academy. Able to play off the left and drive at goal with a fearsome strike in his boots, he can also play deeper and more centrally, controlling a game. That skillset is perhaps more pertinent in terms of replacing De Bruyne, though Olmo could certainly fit around Foden, who is more likely to take a leading role next season after a stellar campaign, scoring 26 goals and winning Player of the Year.

Olmo is 26 and has a contract to run for three years; he is among the most affordable players on this list, but will City go for him? They are likely to consider him an option at this stage.

Bruno Guimaraes to Man City?

Of all the names on this list, Bruno Guimaraes’ has been the most commonly linked with City. Unfortunately for the Newcastle fans who idolise him, their club are not in control here. Guimaraes’ £100m release clause, active until June 30, means if City want the Brazilian, they will likely get him.

The love Bruno gets from Newcastle fans has not gone unnoticed by the player, who said he is “very happy” on Tyneside. But he also admitted his future is uncertain, and Guardiola is on record stating how much he rates him.

This one could move pretty fast, but Newcastle will not accept any less than the full whack, and stylistically, Guimaraes is less of a direct De Bruyne replacement than the others. He might just be the answer to other midfield issues that Matheus Nunes and Kalvin Phillips haven’t managed to solve, mind.