Why Kevin De Bruyne is the best player in the Premier League right now
Forget Harry Kane, Eden Hazard and Sergio Aguero, this Belgian playmaker can manipulate games in ways none of the above can ever hope to
Where would Manchester City be without Kevin De Bruyne this season? The 26-year-old has stepped up to dominate so many Premier League games already.
Take the Chelsea game, a match-up which showed that City could still perform even without the likes of Vincent Kompany and Aguero. But what would happen if they didn’t have De Bruyne? He dictated the course of the game. and even popped up with the decisive winning goal.
A goal which acted as a reminder to the ramifications of Chelsea letting him part ways three years ago.
Only the best players can showcase their talents on the world's biggest stage and especially in the toughest of games. De Bruyne made his mark in City's toughest test to date. The game looked destined to stay deadlocked with 23 minutes remaining before De Bruyne showed why he is the best player in the country right now.
Yesterday, he showcased his brilliance again. He led the way in the 7-2 thrashing of Stoke City and his slick, innovative, forward passing bamboozled Stoke’s defence. The passes to his two assists were sublime.
Not only did he have to gauge the run of the City players, he also had to plan the trajectory of the Stoke defenders- the gap of which he exploited had not been made apparent until the pass was in full float.
No matter how many times you re-watch the pass, the logistics behind his vision will lead to further amazement. He did all this at full tilt as well, highlighting why he already has six assists in the eight Premier League games he's played.
The Master of Creation
He has recorded more Premier League assists (32) than any other player since his arrival to City in the 2015/16 season. Just to put all of this into perspective, in 100 City appearances he has manufactured a groundbreaking assist total of 38 and a goal tally of 25.
There have been so many occasions where he has had to bring his teammates out of the dark and do it all by himself. In the Champions League group stage tie against Shakhtar Donetsk, City issued an uncharacteristically poor first-half performance before De Bruyne sparked City into life. He let strike with a 20-yard screamer to open the scoring.
Even in yesterday’s demolition, Stoke had reduced the three-goal deficit to one.. While many players may have succumbed to Stoke’s recovery and looked to hold on, De Bruyne had other ideas. He played a hand in all the three quick burst City goals that took care of Stoke’s deflation.
First it was his winning the ball back and then sending a dazzling through ball onto the rushing Gabriel Jesus to finish. Then if his hand in the fifth was minimal as it was his pass into Fabian Delph who teed Fernandinho to score, the sixth wasn’t. His diagonal ball to Leroy Sane completely took Stoke’s defence out of the game and Sane finished emphatically.
A player like no other
He has become the most influential player in a side that has so many star names and could easily keep any player out of any Premier League team. Within the City team alone, there are players who can be replaced like for like.
David Silva for Bernardo Silva as the playmaker, Jesus for Aguero as the talisman, but no-one in the Premier League can fill the boots of the game changer De Bruyne.
People may argue Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Paul Pogba or Hazard all have the similar ability to take a game by the scruff of its neck and to devastating effect. But not one of them can do it at the levels of De Bruyne’s consistency and the others can go missing in the big games.
In such a competitive league and where the best sides can suffer blips against the smaller clubs, it is paramount to have a player who can have the consistency to perform especially when others aren’t. There aren’t many around the world that can. Yet time after time, De Bruyne swings the pendulum into City's quarters and does so, all by himself.