England right-back Kyle Walker revealed he has been chosen as one of five Manchester City captains for the 2023-24 season alongside Bernardo Silva, Rodri, Ruben Dias and Kevin De Bruyne.
Speaking to the media on Monday ahead of City’s Champions League group stage opener, Walker refused to reveal who came top in this year’s dressing room vote.
However, he confirmed that De Bruyne, Rodri and Dias would also reprise their roles in City’s leadership group, while Silva becomes the newest member of the squad to be elected as one of the club’s five recognised captains.
Walker, 33, has captained Pep Guardiola‘s side on occasion in previous years and has also worn the armband for City in every game so far this season since De Bruyne was forced off with an injury against Burnley on matchday one.
The England international looks likely to retain that role when last season’s Treble winners take on Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday evening to begin their Champions League title defence.
Who are City’s captains and how are they chosen?
Walker said he and his fellow captains – chosen by a recent squad vote to find a successor to the departed Ilkay Gundogan – will lead the team for this season as well as making sure all checks and fines are paid up.
A ballot reportedly takes place every September after the transfer window has closed to decide on which senior players will take charge for that season. Nominees are voted on by both players and backroom staff.
In 2021, after Dias was first chosen as one of City’s captains, Guardiola said: “11 months and one week we are all here together, and they know who are the best to represent the team.”
In City’s press conference on Monday, Walker said it had been an honour and a privilege to lead out a “special group of players”, adding: “I don’t think the order really matters but it’s down to myself, Kevin, Rodri, Ruben and Bernardo Silva.
“I will continue to [lead the players out] and hopefully lead by example on and off the field to ensure we are collecting the trophies at the end of the season.”
Despite being linked with a move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich earlier this summer, Walker penned a contract extension last week that will keep him at the Etihad until 2026.
Silva, 29, was also the subject of transfer speculation this summer, before similarly ending up signing a new contract at City.
Walker and Silva have both been at the club for six years, while De Bruyne is currently the longest-serving player in Manchester City’s squad.
Gundogan left Manchester after leading City to a historic Treble last season, the Germany international joining Barcelona on a free transfer. He had taken over the armband duties following former captain Fernandinho’s departure in 2022.
Other former City players to have worn the armband and be part of the player leadership group at City include Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and David Silva, as well as the man perhaps most synonymous with the Manchester City captaincy in the club’s recent, trophy-ridden years: Vincent Kompany.
Why five captains?
While it is unclear exactly why Guardiola chooses to hold this annual election to produce five captains for his squad, it is far from uncommon for dressing rooms to have some sort of pecking order for players who would step up in the absence of their club’s main on-the-pitch leader.
The practice is also reportedly one carried over from the manager’s time in charge at Barcelona.
At City in particular, an established hierarchy could help retain some consistency in a squad that is often heavily rotated – perhaps more than most – over the course of a season, so the team knows who to turn to with different questions and issues.
In any case, while De Bruyne – likely the other main contender for the job, given he led the team out to start the season prior to his injury – remains sidelined, it would be a surprise if Walker did not lead Guardiola’s men out for the Group G clash against Red Star, as well as upcoming Premier League matches versus Nottingham Forest, Wolves and Arsenal.