Kevin De Bruyne and Isco: Race to become the best midfielder in Europe
The two midfielders have impressed this season...
Kevin De Bruyne and Isco are probably the best-attacking midfielders in the European football right now. Both are playing vital roles for their respective clubs and the national teams and have also made it to the 30-man Ballon d'Or list for the year 2017.
In spite of having a different playing style from each other, both these players make things easy for their team and have become an indispensable part of the team. Mostly, these two players operate as the central attacking midfielders but have also shown the same level of consistency when playing as wingers or even as a second striker. This versatility is probably the only thing that separates them from most of the midfielders if we look across top European leagues.
De Bruyne - A key player under Pep
Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne is often identified as a player with great technique, a wide range of passing and the ability to read the game in the final third. He was praised by his manager, Pep Guardiola, who claimed De Bruyne is 'one of the best players' he has ever seen.
The Belgian international returned to the Premier League after proving his abilities at the German club, Wolfsburg. The attacking midfielder from Gent made 73 appearances at Wolfsburg in which he scored 20 goals and assisted 35.
Subsequently, the 2015 'Footballer of the Year in Germany' was under the radar of many European heavyweights and ended up making a move to Manchester City for a reported club record fee of £55 million on 30th August 2015.
Since then, De Bruyne has been a critical member of the Manchester City's squad. He has made 99 appearances for the club, scoring 25 and assisting 36. The midfielder has the 'best assist per match rate' in the Premier League. The Manchester City midfielder is averaging 0.44 assists per match in the Premier League. With 18 assists in the 2016-17 season and three in the ongoing campaign, he has steered ahead of Eric Cantona's long-standing best rate of 0.36 (having played a minimum 50 matches).
Belgium national team ended their FIFA World Cup qualifiers campaign without any defeat (9 wins 1 draw). The Manchester City midfielder played 7 qualifier matches for the national side, to which he contributed with 4 assists.
Isco's rise - No longer under Ronaldo's shadow?
Real Madrid's Isco, who is known for his skill, pace and imagination and also having the ability like the Belgian, i.e. to operate at different positions with ease. The midfielder is precise with his passing and has excellent dribbling skills.
Isco joined Real Madrid for a transfer fee of £27 million from Malaga in 2013. The move came after the midfielder guided Malaga to the transcendent period in their history. He won 'Golden Boy' award in 2012, a prize which is presented by the Italian magazine Tuttosport to the best Under-21 player in Europe.
Since then, the Spanish midfielder has made 202 appearances for Real Madrid and has scored 22 goals and has 39 assists to his name. Although he wasn't a regular name in the Zidane's starting eleven for the initial part of last season, the former Malaga midfielder made a strong statement by giving a series of impressive performances in the latter part of last season which consequently earned him a starting role in pivotal matches of the side.
So far, 2017 has been a remarkable year for Isco. The midfielder is bossing the midfield for his club and the national team. He's been the highest scoring midfielder in La Liga this year with 10 goals.
His performance against Italy in Spain's World Cup qualifiers also astonished quite a few as it was him coming of age and taking the baton from Iniesta. Spain ended their 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier campaign without any defeat (9 wins and 1 draw), and Isco was a star for the La Roja. He was Spain's joint top scorer with five goals alongside Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata, and also provided two assists.
So, both these midfielders are breaking many individual records with their performances. It will be interesting to see if they can keep on succeeding at this level of consistency and who knows, someday one of them might end up winning the Ballon d'Or!