MANCHESTER – Pep Guardiola said Kevin De Bruyne incarnated Manchester City's future after the Belgian's sublime display inspired his side to an emphatic 4-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
De Bruyne smashed in City's second goal on Saturday and had a hand in their third, scored by Raheem Sterling, who went on to complete a brace as City registered a record-extending 16th successive Premier League win.
De Bruyne's hurtful passing repeatedly tore holes in the Spurs defence and Guardiola said that ability on the ball, allied to his exemplary work-rate, made him a figurehead for the club's young players.
"Kevin is one of the most talented players and you see how he runs without the ball," said the City manager.
"You cannot imagine how good he plays with the ball, but he runs like a player in the Conference (semi-professional) league.
"It's a good example for the young players, for our academy, for Phil Foden, for Brahim (Diaz). They know how good Kevin De Bruyne is. And when they see how he runs and he fights without the ball, that is the best example.
"He helps us to be a better club, a better institution for the future. Because that is what we want to do. His performance today, I have no words."
The one-sided win at a misty Etihad Stadium gave City a provisional 14-point lead at the top of the table, ahead of second-place Manchester United's trip to West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Guardiola has matched his best winning run with Barcelona from their all-conquering 2010-11 season and stands three wins short of his own record for Europe's five major leagues, which he set at Bayern Munich in 2013-14.
"Of course I'm proud," said Guardiola.
"I don't want to be humble right now. I'm proud with my staff to achieve that with three teams, every day being there. We work a lot and the players know that.
"And of course that's happened because I was with three amazing clubs: Barcelona, Bayern Munich and this one. All three clubs supported me, all the decisions we believe in and they provide me with outstanding players.
"Without good players and the club supporting your ideas, it's impossible to achieve this kind of thing."
- Hotheaded Alli -
Ilkay Gundogan put City ahead in the 14th minute, ghosting in unmarked to head Leroy Sane's corner past Hugo Lloris.
After Spurs rallied in the second half, De Bruyne carried the game beyond them, rifling home a left-foot shot in the 70th minute and sparking the move that culminated in Sane teeing up Sterling for a tap-in.
Sterling added another, smuggling his way past Lloris and walking the ball in, before Christian Eriksen claimed a stoppage-time consolation.
De Bruyne's goal -- his seventh of the season -- occurred moments after he had been left in a heap by an ugly ankle-high challenge from Dele Alli, who escaped with only a booking.
Harry Kane, too, was shown only a yellow card for an untidy foul on Sterling, but although Guardiola felt both tackles were "dangerous", he refused to criticise referee Craig Pawson.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino was reluctant to discuss the hotheaded Alli and instead urged his team to take inspiration from City's display.
"Look, I'm not going to talk about individual names today because it's not fair," said the Argentinian, whose team slipped from fourth to seventh.
"The most important thing is our collective performance wasn't how we expect and I think we were poor. Not only poor -- the way we conceded the first goal was a massive mistake for us.
"When you play against teams like Manchester City, if you concede a goal like this after 15 minutes, come on. We can't assess individual performances.
"We need to learn from this situation. Today was a very good example of a team that believe, that have quality and is in very good form. They deserved the victory completely."