Pep Guardiola has hinted that Kevin de Bruyne will be named Fernandinho’s successor as Manchester City captain.
City’s players will vote next week but Guardiola believes De Bruyne, who has been wearing the armband in pre-season and is likely to lead them in Saturday’s Community Shield, is a strong candidate.
The Belgian is City’s longest-serving player after Fernandinho’s departure in the summer and the only one who was in the team before Guardiola’s 2016 arrival.
The City manager said: “I’m pretty sure Kevin will be… as the oldest player here, the responsibility he takes on the pitch and in many cases off the pitch he will be a key role within the team, I’m pretty sure.”
De Bruyne was one of the five players in City’s captaincy group last season, along with Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker and Guardiola will allow his players to choose.
“I don’t pick,” he added. “In the beginning I picked the fifth, now I don’t pick – they pick. It’s no question of favourites, what the team decide is perfect, what the staff decide I’m happy.
“They have to defend the team when they don’t agree with the manager. I love the captains being decided by them, not me. It belongs to them, in the locker room. I never vote. The only person who doesn’t vote is me.
“What they decide is perfect, not a problem. Fernandinho left an incredible legacy, how you have to behave in the locker room.”