Manchester City were ‘relieved’ that Kevin De Bruyne was awarded the Premier League Player of the Year, according to Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
The City chairman admitted fears that De Bruyne, who equalled Thierry Henry’s assist record with 20 for the campaign, would miss out on the prize.
City have lifted four of the last nine titles but the Belgian – who the club want to tie down to a new contract – became the first of their players to win the accolade.
‘It was a combination of being pleased but also a bit relieved,’ Al Mubarak said. ‘Obviously it is subjective because of who he plays for, but Kevin is the best player in the league this year.
‘I was worried because we have seen it before with City players, them being overlooked for this very important award and I was worried that Kevin would be overlooked this year, because in my view it was unquestionable.’
Pep Guardiola has previously referenced the lack of individual honours bestowed on his squad, particularly in the two title-winning campaigns.
Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk won it as City reached 100 points and then defended their crown.
Al Mubarak added: ‘Kevin’s earned it, he’s shown it and I’m glad he got this appreciation and respect from the football world.
‘He has become an important leader of this group. He is really the future of City and all I can say is well deserved and well earned.’