There is little doubt that Kevin De Bruyne is the best player on the best team in the Premier League at the moment.
But after the Belgian limped out of Manchester City’s recent 3-1 win over Swansea with a hamstring injury, the Citizens look set for at least a month without him.
Pep Guardiola has hinted that Raheem Sterling is best placed to fill the void left by the attacking midfielder, having matched De Bruyne’s combined goals and assists tally of six through the first six league games.
But while the English wide man has impressed many with his start to the season, it isn’t likely that he’ll be shoved inside to central midfield to cover for his absent teammate.
Instead players like Fabian Delph or Fernando could come in as natural centre-circle dwellers, but neither would provide the same level of creativity as De Bruyne – who leads the way with four assists this term and lies second for key passes with 20.
The best option to allow Guardiola to retain penetration in his side is to switch David Silva back to the centre of the field.
That’s where the former Valencia man started the season, alongside De Bruyne, but was stationed on the left flank in the game against Swansea game to allow Ilkay Gundogen to continue in the middle of the park.
Silva profiles as a closer match for the former Chelsea man in terms of guile and vision, and would also mean Guardiola could unleash the pace and trickery of Leroy Sane from the start of games.
The German has played just 49 top-flight minutes since arriving from Schalke and will need to be thrown in for a test sooner or later. Whether a trip to face second-place Tottenham is the time for that remains to be seen however.
Thankfully, Guardiola has the chance to trial the theory in City’s Champions League game against Celtic, which the Etihad Stadium side remain 7/20 favourites for despite De Bruyne’s absence.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing