Kevin De Bruyne is widely considered one of the world’s best midfielders and, judging by the stats, he’s only getting better.
The Manchester City playmaker created a league-high 105 chances for his teammates in their record-breaking 2017/18 campaign where they won 100 points in their Premier League success.
A knee injury limited his involvement last season but, this term, he is back to full fitness and has made a stunning start – creating 27 clear-cut chances for his side already.
To give the quality of his performances perspective, Christian Eriksen and Paul Pogba have created 10 and 11 chances respectively so far this term, with Manuel Lanzini, Pascal Gross and Riyad Mahrez tied in second in the rankings with 15.
The 28-year-old is tearing opposition defences to shreds with a playmaking masterclass, notching up an extraordinary SEVEN assists already in just six matches.
Despite winning an unprecedented domestic quadruple in 2018/19, Pep Guardiola saw De Bruyne’s absence in the last campaign as a missed opportunity for further dominance.
“We had an incredible season, winning four titles, but we missed him a lot last season, because he’s a special player,” he said after the 8-0 demolition of Watford last weekend.
Most chances created this season
1. Kevin de Bruyne: 27 chances created (451 minutes played)
2. Trent Alexander-Arnold: 23 chances created (540 minutes played)
3. Riyad Mahrez: 15 chances created (308 minutes played)
4. Pascal Gross: 15 chances created (356 minutes played)
5. Manuel Lanzini: 15 chances created (448 minutes played)
6. Gylfi Sigurdsson: 15 chances created (481 minutes played)
7. Emiliano Buendía: 14 chances created (533 minutes played)
8. Jack Grealish: 14 chances created (540 minutes played)
9. Oliver Norwood: 13 chances created (514 minutes played)
10. Lucas Digne: 13 chances created (523 minutes played)
De Bruyne’s rise to the top has been anything but plane sailing, though.
Throughout the early stages career he was repeatedly told he wasn’t good enough for the very highest level – including by Jose Mourinho – who showed him a list of stats detailing how other attacking midfielders at Chelsea were ‘outperforming him’.
“He showed us the stats of all attacking midfielders: assists, goals, pass percentage, decisive actions, dribbles” De Bruyne recalled of a meeting he had in 2013 with Mourinho during his time at Stamford Bridge.
“He wanted to prove that I didn’t perform at the same level as the others. I answered him: ‘Sorry, that’s not logical. I’ve played fewer games. How can you compare us?’”
From that moment, his stint in west London was as good as done.
A £25m move to Wolfsburg followed and ever since De Bruyne has painfully reminded Chelsea what they could have had.
The Belgian has now spent four trophy-laden seasons in England, winning everything except the Champions League.
According to former City winger Trevor Sinclair, De Bruyne ranks alongside some of the Premier League’s greatest ever midfielders, including his ex-England teammates David Beckham and Paul Scholes.
“He is right up there with those guys,” Sinclair exclusively told talkSPORT.com,
“He’s putting in match-winning performances, taking the game by the scruff of the neck and winning them by himself.
“When you look at any era with any great team, they’ve always got one great player and for Manchester City that is Kevin De Bruyne.”
Sinclair also believes De Bruyne’s blistering displays stem from his deep-rooted anger at missing almost half of last season’s title-winning campaign.
“I think there’s a lot of frustration from what he missed out on last season,” he continued.
“He missed half the Premier League games and he is almost taking out his frustration on the rest of the Premier League. His performances have been absolutely breathtaking.
“Physically, I’ve not seen him look any better than now and if he stays fit it’s going to be a difficult title to take away from Manchester City.”
De Bruyne’s record at City
Premier League appearances: 126
Honours: Premier League x2, FA Cup, Carabao Cup x3
Incredibly, Manchester City had no players named in FIFA’s World XI that was announced earlier this week – but Sinclair has backed De Bruyne to win the biggest individual prize – the Ballon d’Or – if he remains fit.
“He can absolutely win it,” Sinclair added. “The only reason he hasn’t been considered is because there’s something going on with FIFA and Manchester City players.
“None of them made team of the year – even Bernardo Silva despite what he won for City and Portugal.”
De Bruyne’s remarkable start to the campaign will unquestionably be a concern for title rivals Liverpool.
City have a player who has created twice as much as any other and one who is already halfway towards equalling Thierry Henry’s league record of 20 assists in a single season.
And Sinclair believes the Arsenal legend’s record has no chance of staying in tact with De Bruyne in the form he’s in.
“He’s going to absolutely blow that record apart if he continues. I just hope he stays fit because he’s got something no one else has in the Premier League.”
De Bruyne will be in action for Manchester City against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, in one of THREE live GameDay commentaries on talkSPORT
* All stats correct as of 27 September, 2019
LIVE on talkSPORT
Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this weekend…
- Stoke vs Nottingham Forest (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Sheffield United vs Liverpool (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
- QPR vs West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Chelsea vs Brighton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Everton vs Manchester City (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT