Manchester City player Kevin de Bruyne has warned Premier League champions Liverpool that it will not be easy defending the title in the new season which starts on Saturday.

City successfully defended their crown in the 2018/19 season but were resoundingly defeated by Liverpool who took the title in the 2019/2020 season to end their 30-year trophy drought.

“It was harder than we expected and we needed a very big fight with them to get it done,” De Bruyne told the Daily Mail. “Mentally, sometimes it’s tougher. Some teams are a little more focused on beating you.

“Sometimes, some people find it more difficult after winning to get that same feeling again. It is very difficult to recreate the same feeling even with the same team.

“There is so much in life that goes on personally. Every little thing can change you. Injury can change you. Football is all about circumstances and it’s already difficult enough to try and win one, never mind twice.

“I think they [Liverpool] can reach the levels again. I don’t think you need to change the team to have the same feeling or ambition. But I don’t know how they feel. I don’t know their desire. For everyone, it is personal.”

Manchester City were heavily linked with Lionel Messi during his transfer conflict with Barcelona. But the Argentine made a u-turn and accepted to remain with the La Liga giants.

For De Bruyne who recently won the PFA award, the possibility of playing alongside Messi was not considered.

“I really don’t care. I really don’t,” he said. “If he would have come, it would have helped us because, for me, he has been the best player of all time. But I am never looking at what players may come and what may happen.

“You play with the players you have and I think we have a pretty good team in that respect. It would be stupid of me to assume what would happen if a certain player came. It happens in football all the time. People are supposed to come and eventually they don’t.”

Manchester City will visit Wolves in a premier league clash on September 21.