Belgian star Kevin De Bruyne, a pivotal figure in Manchester City's title-winning campaign, will be out of action for three months because of a knee injury, the club said Friday.
The 27-year-old midfielder -- who scored eight goals and provided 16 assists as City romped to the title last season -- will not have to undergo surgery on the injury which he suffered in training on Wednesday.
But his recovery will mean he misses the Premier League clash with the team many think will be City's main title rivals, Liverpool, on October 7 and the Manchester Derby on November 11 as well as part of the Champions League group stage.
"Manchester City can confirm Kevin de Bruyne has suffered a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) lesion in his right knee," the club said in a statement.
"No surgery is required, and the midfielder is expected to be out for around three months."
De Bruyne, who enjoyed a superb World Cup as Belgium reached the semi-finals, suffered a similar injury in a league game with Everton in January 2016 although that kept him out of the team for two months.
He came on for a cameo role of half an hour in the 2-0 opening Premier League victory over Arsenal last Sunday.
While the loss of such a player would be a blow to most clubs, City have more depth than most thanks to their Abu Dhabi owners spending generously on players.
The likes of Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Ilkay Gundogan or even the home grown teenage talent Phil Foden are capable of filling the vacuum.