Belgian superstar Kevin De Bruyne has enjoyed an excellent run of form since his return from injury, scoring three goals in just four games. The former Chelsea playmaker had suffered from a damaged knee ligament, as well as a sprained ankle at the end of January but seems to have returned better than ever. His recent heroics in their Champions League quarter-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain has seen his stock risen significantly in the past few days. The 24-year-old has hit the back of the net 10 times this season for the Citizens in all competitions while bagging 9 assists in his 30 outings. The Genk graduate is now proving to be City’s big game player and match winner leaving Yaya Toure as a fading memory in the minds of their fans.
Several eyebrows were raised when the Noisy Neighbours splashed £54M last summer on the youngster who had left Chelsea just 18 months prior for a reasonable £18M fee. De Bruyne however had enjoyed great success at Wolfsburg, capturing the German Cup and Super Cup while leading Die Wolfe to a second place finish behind Bayern Munich last season. To cap off a brilliant 2014/2015 season, the 5ft 11in creative genius was named the Bundesliga Player of the Year ahead of the likes of Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski. That achievement confirmed his meteoric rise and forced him into the argument as one of the best players in Europe.
Scoring in both legs of their Champions League quarter-final, De Bruyne stepped up like all great players do when his team needed him the most. Since his return, City looks a lot more fluent team going forward with dynamism, innovation and imagination in their play. The quality he brings seems to galvanize everyone around him and as such, now seems to be Manchester City’s life insurance policy. So many times in the past when the Citizens needed a goal or a moment of inspiration, Yaya Toure was the provider however his influence in the team seems to have waned considerably. The Ivorian appears to be uninterested this season and may not even be an automatic selection for his manager anymore.
The 32-year-old formerly of Barcelona has been identified as a liability in midfield for City because of his unwillingness to track runners. He has also been criticized by experts who claim the powerful Ivory Coast midfielder is now a ‘centre-circle to centre-circle midfielder,’ a far cry from the marauding box-to-box player we all grew to love. Rumours of a summer exit have been going around and intensified after it was confirmed that Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola will be taking over at the Etihad this summer. Toure and Guardiola did not have the best of relationships during their time at Barcelona and there is a feeling that the Spanish manager does not want to work with him at City.
Last May, Manuel Pellegrini insisted that the Etihad needed their very own Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo who can always make a difference on the pitch. De Bruyne is proving to be the maverick that the Chilean boss demanded even before he picked up his injury. The class of the 24 year-old cannot be stated enough while his vision, imagination and eye for goal is simply magnificent. He is now City’s reliable source for moments of magic, genius and inspiration as well as the player the club can build their team around.
It is no secret that the brilliant Belgian caught the eye of Guardiola during his time at Wolfsburg and could very well be the protagonist of the former Barcelona manager’s City outfit. Once fit, the former Genk forward is one of the first names on the team sheet for both club and country. At his age, there is still a lot more to learn which should be quite scary for the rest of Europe. The City creator can make improvements to raise his game to new heights that will enable the club to close the gap on the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
With the Euros right around the corner, the 24-year-old will be hoping to stay healthy. After the second leg of their Champions League win over PSG, he confirmed that he was not fully fit as yet after his rehabilitation however, he needs to play games in order to find his best physical condition. At such a young age, De Bruyne has his entire career ahead of him however, ousting Yaya Toure as City’s principal character is no easy fete. Tougher assignments await him in the weeks ahead but with his class, quality, ability and massive potential, the sky is the limit for this absolutely brilliant Belgian.