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Man City's Matheus Nunes: If Pep Guardiola believes I should be here, there's no reason I shouldn't

Watch Luton vs Man City live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm on Sunday, kick-off 2pm

As the rain and wind swirl around Manchester City's Etihad Campus training ground, Matheus Nunes' eyes light up like the sun. "I really want to learn from Kevin De Bruyne," he tells Sky Sports. "But I still haven't had a chance to watch him play yet!"

The Brazilian-born Portugal international is still getting used to the weather, but just as much his new surroundings. "If I thought this squad was good from the outside, they are even better seeing them every day," he admits.

"You can see why they won the treble. Everyone is so talented - even Ederson could play as a midfielder. Not that the players I played with before were not world class, but the levels here are different to anything I have seen before."

You would think these are the words of someone who can't believe their luck, joining a team who could be world champions by the end of December. But it's not quite like that.

This is, certainly, a far cry from balancing life in the Portuguese fifth tier with a part-time career in a bakery. The then-teenager barely had time to his friends, so busy was his work schedule. For clarity, he didn't actually do much baking either.

Now finding himself in more palatial surroundings, the 25-year-old is not overwhelmed. Instead, he believes he has learned the hard way to appreciate what he has.

"That comes not only through life in Portugal but my childhood in Brazil," he says. "It was very tough for my older brothers growing up, and they experienced a lot of things too. It gave me the roughness to succeed."

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Nunes was primarily raised by his mother and has long seen her as his sole parent. "I never had a father," he told UOL Esporte in another interview. "Everything I've already achieved, and everything I am yet to achieve, will always be dedicated of her."

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Speaking after the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the Premier League, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola claims he needs to find a way for his City side to win games when Rodri is unavailable

She ruled the roost in a house of three boisterous sons and first cultivated the kind of grounding, and work-rate, which has inspired Matheus' restless personality. When she led the family halfway across the world from Rio De Janeiro to Lisbon when he was 13, football became the escapism he needed to adapt.

"My whole life has been like that," he admits. "It makes everything easier. Whenever there's been a change in my life, it has helped me escape some of the negative sides of those changes."

Perhaps that explains the pace of his rise from Portuguese minnows Ericeirense to Sporting Lisbon, to Wolves and now to Manchester City in five years.

It certainly exemplifies his development. De Bruyne would be the latest in a long line of players he has looked to for inspiration, with Joao Mario at Sporting a previous muse - even when his signing consigned a young Nunes to the bench.

"I try to look at certain things other players in my position are good at, and see if I can put that in my game to become the most complete midfielder I can be," he says.

"There's so many here - Bernardo [Silva], so good. Rodri, exceptional. [Mateo] Kovacic, so good. Rico Lewis! He's 18 and considering that, he's such a good player."

Nunes has needed a similar level of patience at the Etihad to date. His opening weeks were disrupted by injury but now four months later, he has still played barely 200 minutes of Premier League football since his move.

He is not the first player to get the softly-softly treatment from Pep Guardiola. Getting used to the unique head coach's demands, and philosophy, is regularly a slow process.

"I still need to improve some things, but if Pep believes I should be here there is no reason why I shouldn't," says Nunes, his steely determination shining through again. "I want to score more goals, recover more balls, get more assists. But he improves every player who comes into the team, and I will be no different."

He could have a claim to have played more minutes in a Manchester City side who have not won any of their last four games and were especially out of sorts at Aston Villa on Wednesday night.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Manchester City

Even if frustration did build, the small, tightknit group of family and friends whose opinions have helped guide him to this point would keep him calm. He may see more minutes when City travel to Luton on Sunday, to face a side with the kind of aggression and resolve he admires. Perhaps he sees some of himself in them.

"I saw the first half against Arsenal on Tuesday, they're aggressive but not just that - they're very good on the ball as well," he says. "I'm not sure what they will do against us but I'm not expecting them to park the bus, they will have courage and quality.

"All the teams in the Premier League have players who could be in bigger teams, every year there's someone who moves on. It happened to me at Wolves this year, and Luton are no different."

Channelling some inner Kevin De Bruyne at Kenilworth Road would do both Nunes and his beleaguered team the world of good if he does get the nod to play.

If he does manage that, you know exactly who he will be getting the credit. Mum.

Watch Luton vs Man City live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm on Sunday, kick-off 2pm.

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