IS KEVIN DE BRUYNE ONE OF THE GREATEST PREMIER LEAGUE MIDFIELDERS OF ALL TIME?
Dating back to the moment Kevin De Bruyne returned to English football with Manchester City, he has well and truly ignited the Premier League with a myriad of untouchable performances. And now, more than ever, has the time come to associate the Belgian alongside the league’s all time iconic faces?
“I could not be happier,” said De Bruyne after agreeing a two year extension to his current contract, which will keep him at the Etihad Stadium until the summer of 2025.
Those words effectively rippled euphoria throughout Manchester, and rightly so given just how influential the 29-year old has been since coming over from Wolfsburg in August 2015.
In that time, he has made close to 200 Premier League appearances for the Citizens, racking up 41 goals and 77 assists from midfield to acclaim widespread regard as the league’s finest footballer.
De Bruyne has also exhibited a flawless inventive output that is quite simply unattainable as far as his colleagues are concerned. Across the same period, ex-Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen (51) is the only player to have laid on more than 50 goals, with former and current teammates David Silva (44) and Riyad Mahrez (41) coming in behind.
Whilst it is already a spectacular achievement, it indeed becomes even more impressive when you account that De Bruyne missed large parts of the 2018-19 season, only starting 11 league matches following a succession of knee injuries.
And De Bruyne, who now bears captaincy for Pep Guardiola’s side, has gone on to create a staggering 535 chances after making his debut against West Ham in September 2015, which he marked with a goal in a shock 2-1 home defeat.
Perhaps not for City, but most certainly for the player in question, it was a serving sign of what was to come.
Again, De Bruyne’s numbers upon his top-flight reinstatement are tellingly unrivalled, evidenced by the fact that merely two other players in Eriksen (413) and Mesut Özil (400) have surpassed the 400 mark.
Additionally, he has proved a key catalyst of City’s ascent to domestic superiority; during his time in Manchester, he has helped his side to four League Cups, two Premier League trophies, two Community Shields and a sole FA Cup.
Of course, the hankering absence of European glory is very prevalent in the blue side of the City, though, providing De Bruyne can remain at full throttle, the Citizens will stand in good stead of breaking their continental duck.
Subsequently, this goes in hand with a bountiful list of awards that have been richly merited. Just a few of those include honours such as: three Manchester City Player of the Season awards, two PFA team of the year inclusions, two Premier League Playmaker of the Season awards and Premier League player of the Season, the latter of which he scooped last term.
Although City lost out on the retention of their top flight supremacy to Jürgen Klopp’s dominant Liverpool side in the previous campaign, that did not restrict De Bruyne from embracing his finest return to date, entailing an outstanding ouvre of 13 goals and 20 assists.
Beneath the surface, the ingenious inventor married this with a colossal 156 created chances, a feat that is simply customary for his lofty standards. And, for an indicative spoonful of context, the closest competitor came in the form of Liverpool’s gunning young right back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who carved out 100 chances over the course of the season.
This year, despite swiftly approaching 30 - an age that is so commonly believed as the benchmark of deterioration - De Bruyne has displayed no signs of regression by having a hand in 16 league goals to orchestrate his side’s unassailable conquest to inevitable triumph.
And, for almost any player, a career even semi-resemblant of De Bruyne’s would be harboured as a paradisiacal success- and rightly so. However, the Belgian International still has time to blossom even more.
In the past, bonafide Etihad legends such as Silva, Sergio Agüero and Vincent Kompany have all shot down the notion by thriving deep into their thirties, which you can fully expect De Bruyne to follow suit with.
A real Rolls-Royce of a footballer, De Bruyne possesses a catalogue of alluring attributes extending far beyond his creative prowess. He is no goal machine, however his goal return across the course of his career is still worthy of appraisal for a midfielder. The majority of his goals are worth watching incessantly too, as he shoulders the knack of converting scintillating long range efforts to induce audiences all over.
So often, De Bruyne starts deep into the heart of the midfield and, utilising his profound ability to shield the ball and exquisite dribbling, he enjoys bursting forward into the final third in an instant, all the while making such a function seem effortless.
In all honesty, it is a treacherous task to even attempt dismissal towards De Bruyne’s increasing claim as one of the division’s all-time leading players.
Quite simply, the former Genk man is a unique, one of a kind talent. Players like him really do not grace football pitches on a routine basis and, for me, that is what makes him so special.
De Bruyne is surely accompanying the greatest midfield players in the Premier League’s history, so with many years still to go, it only seems inevitable that his iconic status will surge upwards even more.