Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola is desperate to keep Kevin De Bruyne fit this season after the influential Belgian missed a chunk of last year because of injuries.
The attacking midfielder is among the City players in the running to succeed the departed Vincent Kompany as captain when the Premier League begins in three weeks.
The 28-year-old wore the armband and impressed in the English champions' Asia Trophy final defeat on penalties to Wolves in Shanghai on Saturday.
It was a reminder of what De Bruyne in full flight is capable of, having missed half of last season with knee and hamstring problems.
"He's top, last season we missed him a lot," said Guardiola, after the friendly with Wolves ended 0-0 after 90 minutes, leading to penalties.
"We are stronger with him. Last season he had no holidays (because of the World Cup) but this time we have more time to rest.
"We hope that we can keep him healthy, this is a guy who loves to play football and is a huge competitor."
Guardiola, who backed by money from the Middle East has built one of the most formidable squads in the history of the Premier League, cautioned that De Bruyne needed to remain "calm".
The Spaniard, who will be targeting Champions League glory this season to go with the English title, added: "He is a player who never loses confidence, even last season.
"We know his quality, he always has a good attitude, he is incredible.
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